At first glance, chapters 12 – 26 appear chaotic, but if we examine them closely, we will see general connections with all of the Ten Commandments in order. Even though it is not a perfect fit, we can divide the chapters this way (adapted from Victor Hamilton, Handbook on the Pentateuch, Baker Academic, 2005, pg. 404):
Deuteronomy 12 – The first and second commandments: “You shall have no other gods before me / you shall not make for yourself a carved image” (Deuteronomy 5:6-10).
Deuteronomy 13 – 14 – The third commandment: “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain” (Deuteronomy 5:11).
Deuteronomy 15 – 16:17 – The fourth commandment: “Observe the Sabbath day” (Deuteronomy 5:12-15).
Deuteronomy 16:18 – 18 – The fifth commandment: “Honor your father and your mother” (Deuteronomy 5:16).
Deuteronomy 19 – 21 – The sixth commandment: “You shall not murder” (Deuteronomy 5:17).
Deuteronomy 22 – 23:18 – The seventh commandment: “You shall not commit adultery” (Deuteronomy 5:18).
Deuteronomy 23:19 – 24:7 – The eighth commandment: “You shall not steal” (Deuteronomy 5:19).
Deuteronomy 24:8 – 25:3 – The ninth commandment: “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor” (Deuteronomy 5:20).
Deuteronomy 25:4-19 – The tenth commandment: “You shall not covet” (Deuteronomy 5:21).
Once again, this is not a perfect order; for example, where will we put the laws on not returning a runaway servant, especially when the following laws appear to have a link with the seventh commandment against adultery (Deuteronomy 23:15-18)? But at least there are general characteristics that unite almost all of these laws with the Ten Commandments in order.
Therefore, in today’s reading, we see an emphasis on the first three commandments. As the priests and Levites will focus on the sacrifices and all of the responsibilities associated with the tabernacle, the other Israelites will focus on the destruction of everything associated with idolatry and false prophets, in eating according to the laws of ritual purity and in managing their tithes for thanksgiving to Yahweh and blessing to the Levites and the poor. In these ways they will demonstrate their devotion to Yahweh even though they live far from the tabernacle.