The first fruit also of your corn, of your wine, and of your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep, shall you give him.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Exodus 22:29,
and the first of the fleece of thy sheep shall thou give him: concerning which in the Misnah (r) it is said, the first of the fleece is used in the land and without the land, of which they give the weight of five shekels in Judea, which are ten shekels in Galilee; and they give white wool, and not defiled, enough to make of it a little garment. He that buys a fleece of the sheep of a Gentile, he is free from the first of the fleece; but if he buys it of his neighbour, if he leaves any of it, the seller is bound, if none the buyer is bound; if there are two sorts, russet and white, and he sells the russet but not the white, the males but not the females, everyone gives for himself. It may be observed in this account, that as much wool was to be given as would make a small garment; enough, says one of the commentators (s), to make a little garment to minister in; and the least garment fit for a priest to minister in is a girdle. Jarchi's paraphrase of it is,"when thou shearest thy flock every year, give the first of it to the priest; it does not determine the quantity, but our Rabbins fix it to the sixtieth part;''with which agrees the observation of another writer (t), that there is no quantity fixed for the first of the fleece from the law, but from the words of the Scribes it must not be less than the sixtieth part. There is no obligation to the first of the fleece until five sheep are shorn, and the fleece of everyone of the five must not be less than twelve shekels' weight; but if there is one fleece of them less than twelve shekels, though the five fleeces are more than sixty shekels, lo, this is free; so that, as Maimonides (u) says, the first of the fleece is not less than the weight of a shekel.The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. the firstfruits] or, it may be, the best. Heb. reshîth, not bikkûrim (Deuteronomy 12:6). See Deuteronomy 26:2 f.; cp. E, Exodus 23:19, J, Exodus 34:26, and P, Numbers 18:12. On corn, wine and oil, see Deuteronomy 7:13, Deuteronomy 12:17, Deuteronomy 14:23, Deuteronomy 25:19-19. The first or best, of the fleece is mentioned only here.Verse 4. - In addition to the firstfruits already prescribed by the Law to be given to the priests (Numbers 18:12, 13), Moses here enacts that the first fleece of the sheep shall be given. All these, though legally prescribed, were free gifts on the part of the people; the neglect of the prescription incurred only moral blame, not judicial penalty. Deuteronomy 17:19 and Deuteronomy 17:20) was "to learn the fear of the Lord, and to keep His commandments" (cf. Deuteronomy 5:25; Deuteronomy 6:2; Deuteronomy 14:23), that his heart might not be lifted up above his brethren, that he might not become proud (Deuteronomy 8:14), and might not turn aside from the commandments to the right hand or to the left, that he and his descendants might live long upon the throne.
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