Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
Punishment for Unholiness
“Keeping Holy the Holy Congregation by Cutting off Irreparable Transgression.”—LANGE
1And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones. 3And I will set my face against that man, and will cut him off from among his people; because he hath given of his seed unto Molech, to defile my sanctuary, and to profane my holy name. 4And if the people of the land do any ways hide1 their eyes from the man, when he giveth of his seed unto Molech, and kill him not: 5then I will set my face against that man, and against his family, and will cut him off, and all that go a whoring after him, to commit whoredom with Molech, from among their people. 6And the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits, and after wizards, to go a whoring after them, I will even set my face against that soul,2 and will cut him off from among his people. 7Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: for I am the LORD your God.3 8And ye shall keep my statutes, and do them: I am the LORD which sanctify you.
9For4 every one that curseth his father or his mother shall be surely put to death: he hath cursed his father or his mother; his blood5 shall be upon him.
10And the man that committeth adultery with another man’s wife, even he that commiteth adultery with his neighbor’s wife,6 the adulterer and the adulteress shall surely be put to death. 11And the man that lieth with his father’s wife hath uncovered his father’s nakedness: both of them shall surely be put to death; their blood5 shall be upon them. 12And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death; they have wrought confusion; their blood5 shall be upon them. 13If a man also lie with mankind, as he lieth with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination: they shall surely be put to death; their blood shall be upon them. 14And if a man take a wife and her mother, it is wickedness: they shall be burnt with fire, both he and they; that there be no wickedness among you. 15And if a man lie with a beast, he shall surely be put to death: and ye shall slay the beast. 16And if a woman approach unto any beast, and lie down thereto, thou shalt kill the woman, and the beast: they shall surely be put to death; their blood5 shall be upon them. 17And if a man shall take his sister, his father’s daughter, or his mother’s daughter, and see her nakedness, and she see his nakedness; it is a wicked thing; and they shall be cut off in the sight of their people: he hath uncovered his sister’s nakedness; he7 shall bear his iniquity. 18And if a man shall lie with a woman having her sickness, and shall uncover her nakedness; he hath discovered [uncovered8] her fountain, and she hath uncovered the fountain of her blood: and both of them shall be cut off from among their people. 19And thou shalt not uncover the nakedness of thy mother’s sister, nor of thy father’s sister: for he uncovereth his near kin: they shall bear their iniquity. 20And if a man shall lie with his uncle’s wife, he hath uncovered his uncle’s nakedness: they shall bear their sin; they shall die childless. 21And if a man shall take his brother’s wife, it is an unclean thing: he hath uncovered his brother’s nakedness: they shall be childless.
22Ye shall therefore keep all my statutes, and all my judgments, and do them: that the land, whither I bring you to dwell therein, spue you not out. 23And ye shall not walk in the manners [statutes9] of the nation,10 which I cast out before you: for they committed all these things, and therefore I abhorred them. 24But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people. 25Ye shall therefore put difference between clean beasts and unclean, and between unclean fowls and clean: and ye shall not make your souls abominable by beast, or by fowl, or by any manner of living [omit living11] thing that creepeth on the ground, which I have separated from you as unclean. 26And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine. 27A man also or woman that hath a familiar spirit, or that is a wizard, shall surely be put to death: they shall stone them with stones: their blood shall be upon them.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lev 20:4. On the daghesh in הַעְלֵּם and יַעְלִּימוּ, see Text. Note10 on 4:13.
Lev 20:6. בַּנֶּפֶשׁ. Four MSS. and Onk. read בְּאִישׁ which De Rossi prefers on account of the following אֹתּוֹ. For the last, however, the Sam. reads אתה.
Lev 20:7. The Sam., 4 MSS. and LXX. read: for I, the LORD your God, am holy.
Lev 20:9. כִּי = for is omitted in two MSS., the LXX. and Vulg.
Lev 20:9, 11, 12, 16. On the plural form for blood, comp. Gen. 4:10; Ex. 22:1.
Lev 20:10. Three of Kennicott’s MSS. omit the first clause of this verse. Rosenmüller considers that the repetition involves a distinction for the sake of emphasis, making רֵעַ in the second clause=relation, so that there is a prohibition, first of adultery in general, then specifically, of adultery with the wife of a relative. For this sense of the word he refers to Deut. 13:7: 2 Sam. 13:3. S. Augustine (Qu. 73 in Hept.) takes the same view.
Lev 20:17. The LXX., Syr. and Vulg. have the plural.
Lev 20:18. The same word should receive the same translation in both clauses.
Lev 20:23. Statutes. See Text Note2 on 18:3.
Lev 20:23. The Sam. reads הגוים and so one MS. followed by all the ancient versions, as seems to be required by the following they committed. If is not unlikely that ם may have dropped out of the text.
Lev 20:25. There is nothing to express the word living in the Heb., and it is better omitted, as the reference is wholly to the dead bodies of these animals.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
The whole of Lange’s Commentary on this chapter is here given.
“Our section forms a completion of the prohibitions which have preceded in Lev 18, while it still further joins the punishment of death to several of the very sins there mentioned. Yet this is certainly no mere appendix, but proceeds from an entirely new point of view. There the fundamental idea was: the sexual relations, particularly, the theocratic seed, must be kept holy; here the fundamental idea is: the holy land must be kept holy, it must not be outraged or stirred up to reaction and revolt through an abomination which might determine it to spue out the Israelites also (as a person spues out something nauseous from his mouth), Lev 20:22. Lev 18:28 had already expressed this thought, but from the point of view that the land would be thereby desecrated. It is also here clearly brought out that the land would be taken away from the Canaanites on account of their constant abominations, and given to the people of Israel; but that the like punishment should befall them also, if they did not keep the land clean by executing the penalty of death upon the offenders. In the conception of the sickened land and the revolted nature lies evidently the idea of the people consumed by unnatural sins.” [A simpler view of the relation of this to chs. 18 and 19 is given by Clark: “The crimes which are condemned in those chapters on purely spiritual ground, the absolute prohibition of Jehovah, have here special punishments allotted to them as offences against the well being of the nation.” In Lev 19 there is no mention at all of punishment except in the single case of the betrothed slave (Lev 20:20–22); in Lev 18 there is no specific punishment attached to each offence, but only the general statement (Lev 20:28–30) of the penalty to fall upon the trangressor of any of the statutes and upon the land as a whole. For the purpose of civil government, therefore, the present chapter is a necessary supplement.—F. G.]
“Already (schon früher) has the decree of the death-penalty been brought forward for sins that were committed, בְּיָר רָמָה (Num. 15:30). By this we can only understand stubborn or arrogant sins; therefore not every conscious sin, as opposed to the unconscious, but every sin which was maintained in opposition to the theocratic jurisdiction. Single sins might always prove to be such; but the abominations here mentioned were, for the most part, deadly sins, those most befitting the Cherem, as blaspheming the name of Jehovah, Lev 24:11, and desecrating the Sabbath, Num. 15:32.
“But also we have here different grades of punishment with the different grades of offence. The first class of sins is devilish, Lev 20:1–7; the second class brutal, even beastly, Lev 20:10–16; the third, of the carnal nature, unruly, Lev 20:17–21.
“1. The sacrifice to Molech. It is to be understood that the stranger was included with the Israelite under this prohibition; for if, in general, no sacrifice to false gods were allowed in the land, so certainly not the sacrifice to Molech. The Jew, however, would become more wicked by such an offering than a heathen. It is also here plain that what is spoken of is the giving up of children to death.” [The expressions used here, Lev 20:2, 3, 4, are an abbreviated form of that in 18:21. It may be doubted whether they refer to children at all, or if so, to putting them to death. See Textual Note and Comm. on 18:21.—F. G.]
“In regard to this, it sounds like a charge to execute immediate judgment on the spot: the people of the land shall stone him with stones, properly, bury him under thrown stones.” [Doubtless in a primitive state of society all punishment was somewhat summary, and this particular punishment is often provided for in the law, Lev 20:27; 24:14; Num. 15:35, 36; Deut. 13:10; 17:5; 21:21; 22:21, 24, etc. But, nevertheless, it was only to be administered on sufficient evidence, and with due forms of law, Deut. 17:6; 19:15, etc.—F. G.]—“In this case the avenging is God’s personal affair: Jehovah sets His face against him to consume him out of Jehovah’s people; for his sin is a three-fold one: he has given his seed to Molech, and therein has judged himself; he has defiled the sanctuary of Jehovah, that is, the land hallowed by His sanctuary; and he has profaned Jehovah’s holy name, and desecrated the religion of His name. And even if the people should let him go unpunished in the last case, Jehovah Himself will pursue him and even his race with His judgment, until He has exterminated all who are associated in his guilt. So strongly rules the absolute Personality against all behaviour that opposed personality. The judgment is in this case as immanent in the guilty as a consuming fire. One might also suppose that “the face of Jehovah,” in a constructio prægnans, here signified the Angel of His presence, and thus expressed the thought that the spirit of the revealed religion would exterminate the abominations mentioned together with their authors. There were two grades, however, in complicity in this guilt: in the first grade, it is an apostasy to these men (as e.g. in the case of heathen wives); in the second grade, through this to Molech. Lev 20:5.”—[It is noticeable that while the prohibition of the sin in Lev 20:1–5 extends to the stranger on the ground that such abomination was not to be tolerated at all in the consecrated land; yet the extension of the penalty to complicity in the sin by concealment is applied only to the people of the land (Lev 20:4)—that is, to native Hebrews (comp. 4:27), and also to them alone (Lev 20:2) is committed the execution of the penalty.—F. G.]
“2. Also the soul that turneth after such as have familiar spirits (necromancers) and after wizards (LXX. ἐγγαστριμυθοί = ventriloquists, ἐπαοιδοί = singing magic charms, both not exegetically exhaustive) to go a whoring after them—i.e., to engage in apostasy from Jehovah to dark forms of superstition,—therefore against these also Jehovah will set His face. It helps them nothing if they remain unpunished of men; they fall before the more searching sentence upon presumptuous wickedness. Jehovah pursues them even to their extermination, for they are not to corrupt His people for Him.
“In regard to these sins it is said, on the other hand: Sanctify yourselves therefore, and be ye holy: raise yourselves to the dignity of theocratic personalities, for your God is in Jehovah, the absolute, pure Personality. While they observe the ordinances of this Holy Being, they must understand that it is He who is training them to be a holy people.
“FIRST CASE.—Next the text speaks of the unnatural and profligate child that curseth his father or his mother. He shall be surely put to death. And herewith commences the new class. But since the expression begins with for (כִּי), it gives to the clause at the same time a symbolic character in reference to the former class: profaning the name of Jehovah is like this sin of cursing father or mother, since He, as the Holy One, creates for Himself His holy people. But for the second class the expression is characteristic, his blood shall be upon him, or upon them, Lev 20:9, 11, 12, 13, 16. It is to be observed that Lev 20:14 brings out an increase in regard to this form of punishment; but Lev 20:15 certainly falls under one category with Lev 20:16. The ordinance of punishment, equalizing the guilt of the unnatural curser with that of the shedding of blood, brings upon him the penal retribution of the latter. Lev 20:9.
“SECOND AND THIRD CASES.—The crime of adultery with a neighbor’s wife, and the crime of incest with a father’s wife (a step-mother) are equalized under the sentence of blood-guiltiness which incurred death, and this for both man and woman alike. Lev 20:10, 11.
“FOURTH CASE.—The same applies to incest with a daughter-in-law, תֶּבֶל (mixing, confusion, defilement). [Lev 20:12.]
“FIFTH CASE.—Pæderasty, moreover, is designated as an abomination, as contrary to nature, a revolting crime; and the punishment of death is here expressly made prominent. This sin is called תּוֹעֵבָה (abomination, horror). [Lev 20:13.]
“SIXTH CASE.—The double incest is made most particularly prominent when a man lies both with a mother and her daughter. They were to be burnt with each other (without doubt, their bodies after they had been stoned). This sin is called זִמָּה (a refined or unheard of deed of shame. The law brings out prominently that such moral enormities should not exist in Israel). The same penalty was, moreover, imposed upon the daughter of a priest who became a whore, because she had put her father to shame, 21:9. So Achan was first stoned in the valley of Achor, then burned, since he had brought a curse, a corrupting complicity in guilt upon Israel, Josh. 7. But Josiah set burning against burning, the theocratic burning against the burning to Molech, when he burned the bones of the priests upon their altars, and thereby purified Judah and Jerusalem (2 Chr. 34:5; comp. 2 Kings 23:10). With this appears the embryo of the Gehenna, as it comes out in symbolic form in the Old Testament, Isa. 66:24. The Gehenna is thus a representation of the fire of Molech, and over it also the fire of judgment has at last come. Lev 20:14. The Old Testament fire penalty was only symbolical, and involved no unnatural torture, like the mediæval mimicry of the flames of hell. In this case, the offender was first put to death; and the same is true of the Old Testament hanging.
“SEVENTH AND EIGHTH CASES.—Copulation with a beast, either by a man or a woman. With the beastly human being, the beast itself was also to be destroyed. For examples, see Knobel, p. 507. [Lev 20:15, 16.]
“FIRST CASE.—Copulation with a half-sister.” [This also, as in 18:9, necessarily covers the case of a full sister, for she was both the daughter of the father and the daughter of the mother.—F. G.] “They shall be cut off in the sight of their people.—Thus they should form a warning spectacle.” Here the crime is described as חֶסֶד and עֲוֹן disgrace and misdeed, [Lev 20:17.]
“SECOND CASE.—He that lay with a menstruous woman, who in such wise uncovered the fountain of her blood—so to speak—exposed her life-spring. The penalty of death is for both. The sentence sounds with a more gentle expression: destruction out of the midst of the people.” [Lev 20:18. The punishment here refers to the act knowingly committed; in 15:24 the light penalty is given for the same act unintentionally committed.—F. G.]
“THIRD CASE.—Intercourse with an aunt on either the father’s or the mother’s side. They shall bear their iniquity.—Thus sounds the sentence indefinitely, in transition to the following. [Lev 20:19.]
“FOURTH CASE.—If one takes the wife of his brother, it is נִדָּה (it induces the curse of the first degree); The penalty is childlessness, and is thus entirely a divine dispensation (Lev 20:21). Here, as has been said, the prohibition can, in the case of the Levirate marriage (Deut. 25:5–10), become a command—an evidence of the nicety of the law.” [On the meaning of the penalty of childlessness see the preliminary note to Lev 18. It would be entirely out of analogy with the Divine dealings with man to suppose a perpetual special interposition through all the ages of Israel’s history in every case of violation of this law, and there is nothing in the character of the forbidden relation to induce childlessness under those ordinary Divine appointments which we call natural laws. It is also much more in accordance with the general character of this chapter that the penalty should be understood of something inflicted by statute law,—the reckoning of the issue of such marriages to another than the actual father. So rightly S. Augustin, Qu. 76 in Hept. It is a striking fact that this penalty was still carried out in the one case of the prohibited degrees, when the prohibition was changed to a command. In the Levirate marriage no heirs were begotten to the actual father, but they were reckoned to the deceased brother.—F. G.]
“In conclusion, another exhortation follows which, in the first place, marks out the ordinances as judgments (ideas); secondly, expresses the incongruity between the unnatural behaviour and the nature of the land of God, for which even Israel could be spued out from it; and this brings out, in the third place, that for such very things the heathen were thrust out of the land. To this threat a promise is appended in conclusion. [Lev 20:24.] And with this is connected a noble idea: in the separation of clean beasts from the unclean, the separation of Israel from the heathen is to be symbolically mirrored forth. The closing sentence [Lev 20:27] would be unintelligible as a repetition (from Lev 19:31); evidently it is the germ of the prohibition of false enthusiasm and prophecy in Israel itself (see Deut. 19:11 sqq.).” [In 19:31, in accordance with the general character of chaps. 18 and 19, we have simply the prohibition on the spiritual ground of the opposition to God’s will, without mention of specific punishments; here we have throughout civil penalties attached to the various offences as against the theocratic state. Accordingly those that have familiar spirits or are wizards require to be mentioned again in order that the death penalty may be denounced against them.—F. G.]
“Lev 20:25 is particularly important, since it contains the key to the understanding of the Levitical distinction between clean and unclean animals. Men have sought for physiological reasons for this distinction, and quite lately an Israelitish author has referred to the discovery of the Trichina as the foundation of the prohibition of swine’s flesh. In regard to many of the unclean animals, there is indeed the reason of the physiological unhealthiness of the flesh, or of the physical aversion to their hateful appearance; to which may be added, as connected, something of the physical effect of the blood of wild beasts. Also the limitation of Israel to the use and sacrifice of domestic animals must have an economic significance, and be, so to speak, for the benefit of the State, since it worked against the dissipations of the ancient hunting and the luxury of the heathen, and with the cultivation of the land, furthered at the same time domestic simplicity and contentment.” [This must be understood to apply only in a limited degree to the Israelites; for they were allowed freely to hunt and eat all clean wild animals, as the “roebuck and the hart” (Deut. 12:15, etc.). In regard to all physiological and other reasons, it is always to be remembered that no animals are intrinsically unclean; none were excepted from the grant to Noah, and none from the Christian abrogation of the distinction. The law was wholly temporary, added “because of transgressions,” to constitute Israel a peculiar people.—F. G.] “But the symbolic meaning of the animal world, as a representation of Israel among the Gentiles, is here expressly brought out as the religious main reason. Israel was to have a constant representation of its separation from the heathen world in the separation of the clean animals, and thus also the heathen world, by which it was surrounded, and from which it was to understand that it differed in religion and in morals, was to be represented in the sphere of the unclean animals. The sacred observance of the laws of food was thus a constant reminder for Israel of its theocratic sanctity and dignity. Thus it is plain that the old distinction between clean and unclean animals must fall away after the boundary between Israel and the heathen has fallen. But it is also to be recollected that Judaism clung very strongly to the old distinction, as it did no less to the prohibition of the use of blood; and the Apostolic ordinance in regard to the last particular and cognate subjects is explained to mean that these laws, which had been ended as religious dogmas, must yet continue for a time as Christian customs for the sake of a united Christian fellowship. The shadowing forth of the heathen world in the world of unclean beasts, which is here expressly brought out, is denied by Keil, in opposition to Kurtz, without reason (p. 95).” [Much as we may admire the beauty and force of the symbolism here presented by Lange, it is difficult to see how it “is here expressly brought out,” or even in any way alluded to in the text. Certainly the observance of the distinction among animals is placed upon a religious ground, and this observance would contribute to make of Israel that separate people which God had called them to be. Naturally then might the Israelites themselves have compared the heathen to unclean animals; but, so far is such an idea from finding countenance in the word of God that it is only recognised to be removed, and the heathen are first represented as unclean animals in the vision of St. Peter (Acts 10:10–16) at the moment when such distinctions were forever to be done away. The object of the law was to make the distinction of animals fixed and unalterable; but in regard to the heathen, to encourage them to offer sacrifices and partake in the worship of God, and thus to be drawn into ever increasing nearness of relation to Him.—F. G.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
I. In chap. 18 the law is given simply as the will of God. Here punishments are attached to disobedience as to civil offences against the theocratic state. There seems no reason why these two chapters should have been separated except to mark this distinction emphatically. Obedience to God’s law is required simply because it is His will, and this is set forth by itself; afterwards and separately, punishments are provided for these among His people who refuse to be guided by Him.
II. In the frequent expression his or their blood shall be upon him or them is a plain intimation that the offender alone is responsible for the evil that comes upon him. The divine law, whether natural or revealed, is inexorable, and he who thrusts himself across its path necessarily incurs its penalties. There is no occasion for a Divine interposition to punish, and there is no room for the charge of severity; the offender braves an irresistible will, and in doing this must himself alone be held responsible for the result.
III. The beast involved in the guilt of man or woman must be put to death with them. There could be no moral guilt on the part of the beast, because there was no moral responsibility; but yet he must perish because he had been associated in human sin. Whether this was in order to remove the tool of sin from sight simply, or whether it was because of the association of human sin with the beast; in either case it is plain that it was commanded not for the sake of the beast, but of man. Here we have one of the many instances in the law in which human associations and feelings are cared for and protected, and used also as means for the advancement of holiness.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Lange: “The chapter of the great theocratic rigor (chap. 20) forms a contrast to the chapter of the great theocratic mildness and purity of life. Here the various measures of punishment come into consideration. Burning with fire, as a symbolical addition to the punishment of death, is only connected with the dead body which has been put to death by stoning. Then follows the particular capital punishment; and next to this indefinite forms of punishment, he shall bear his iniquity; and finally the punishment of childlessness, in which also we are certainly to suppose a physical basis. The conception of the abominations is the conception of that which is against nature (Rom. 1), of that which, even according to natural instinct, is perverse, horrible, and a revolt against the moral law in man’s nature; but in regard to this, indeed, nature itself comes to the judgment like a spirit of retribution.”
The law of this, as of many other chapters, is enforced on the ground that the Israelites were called to be a holy people. With how great additional force must this apply to Christians. Not only the Israelite, but the stranger also, defiled God’s sanctuary and profaned His holy name by sin. The same thing must be true always; there is no escape from responsibility because one chooses not to acknowledge allegiance to God. The Divine commands still rest upon him. Only he has less help and support in keeping them while he remains aloof from the commonwealth of Israel.
1Lev 20:4. On the daghesh in הַעְלֵּם and יַעְלִּימוּ, see Text. Note10 on 4:13.
2Lev 20:6. בַּנֶּפֶשׁ. Four MSS. and Onk. read בְּאִישׁ which De Rossi prefers on account of the following אֹתּוֹ. For the last, however, the Sam. reads אתה.
3Lev 20:7. The Sam., 4 MSS. and LXX. read: for I, the LORD your God, am holy.
4Lev 20:9. כִּי = for is omitted in two MSS., the LXX. and Vulg.
5Lev 20:9, 11, 12, 16. On the plural form for blood, comp. Gen. 4:10; Ex. 22:1.
6Lev 20:10. Three of Kennicott’s MSS. omit the first clause of this verse. Rosenmüller considers that the repetition involves a distinction for the sake of emphasis, making רֵעַ in the second clause=relation, so that there is a prohibition, first of adultery in general, then specifically, of adultery with the wife of a relative. For this sense of the word he refers to Deut. 13:7: 2 Sam. 13:3. S. Augustine (Qu. 73 in Hept.) takes the same view.
7Lev 20:17. The LXX., Syr. and Vulg. have the plural.
8Lev 20:18. The same word should receive the same translation in both clauses.
9Lev 20:23. Statutes. See Text Note2 on 18:3.
10Lev 20:23. The Sam. reads הגוים and so one MS. followed by all the ancient versions, as seems to be required by the following they committed. If is not unlikely that ם may have dropped out of the text.
11Lev 20:25. There is nothing to express the word living in the Heb., and it is better omitted, as the reference is wholly to the dead bodies of these animals.
Sanctification of the Feasts
“Keeping holy the theocratic times and places, the feasts and their cultus, the most holy name of the PART THIRD
Sanctification of the Feasts
“Keeping holy the theocratic times and places, the feasts and their cultus, the most holy name of the covenant God and His holy land.”—LANGE.
Of the Sabbaths and Annual Feasts
“The Holy Seasons, Laws of the Feasts. Sabbath, Easter, Pentecost, the Seventh New-Moon or Sabbath of the Year, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.”—LANGE.
The following, under Lange’s Exegetical, may properly be placed here. “The foundation of these developed ordinances for the feasts has already presented itself in Ex. 20:8–11 and 31:14” [add Ex. 23:14–19; 34:21–26, and in regard to the Passover, the full account of its institution, Ex. 12:3–27, 43–50,—F. G.]; “the section, Num. 28, 29, contains more specific directions about the sacrifices which were to be offered on the feast days.” [The three great festivals are also described in Deut. 16:1–17, and the reading of the law required at the feast of tabernacles in the Sabbatical year, Deut. 31:10–13.—F. G.]. “Here the treatment is of the organic appearance of the whole festivity of Israel in the unity of its collective holy feasts, with the ordinance of the festal cultus (“Feast-calendar,” Knobel says, which is set aside by Keil); in the Book of Numbers the sacrifices are plainly specified as the requirements of the theocratic state, an indication that they were not the principal things in the ideas of the cultus.
“Upon this important section the article Feste in Winer and others, is to be compared, as well as the rich literature in Knobel, p. 541, to which add Kranold, commentatio de anno Hebræorum Jubilæo. Gottingæ, Dietrich, 1838.” [See also PHILO περὶ τῆς ‛Εβδόμης; BAEHR, Symbolik bk. iv.; EWALD Alterthümer; KALISCH on Ex. 20, etc.; MICHAELIS Laws of Moses, Art. 74–76, 194–201; BOCHART, Hieroz.; and the appropriate articles in SMITH’S Bible Dict., KITTO’S Cyclop. of Bib. lit., HERZOG’S Real-Encykl., and the various literature cited in these.—F. G.].
“The Hebrew festivals are to be regarded especially in a two-fold aspect: 1. The holy seasons (מוֹעֲדֵי יְהוָֹה). 2. The ideas of the different feasts, the holy convocations (מִקְרָאֵי קֹדֶשׁ).
“The holy seasons are, according to their prevalent fundamental number, the number seven, collectively, memorial feasts of the creation; the Sabbath, as the seventh day; Pentecost, as the feast of the seventh week; the seventh new moon, with its following Day of atonement and feast of tabernacles, as the feast of the seventh month; the Sabbatical year, as the festival of the seven Sabbath years; and the Praise year or year of Jubilee; the 50th year, as the festival of the completed seven, the seven times seven, the prophetic festival of the new eternal festal season, (Lev 25).
“Even through the single feasts the number seven runs again: seven days of unleavened bread, seven days in tabernacles, and no less indeed is it reflected in the sevenfold number of the festal sacrifices.
“The datum, however, from which the whole construction of the festal season proceeds, on which the whole building rests, is the datum of the typical deliverance of Israel (Lev 23:15). The line of feasts culminates indeed in a festival [Tabernacles, the last feast of the year] which plainly, as a symbol of the completed deliverance stands over against the [Passover as a symbol of the] beginning of deliverance.” [From another point of view the Passover (which, as such, is not mentioned in this chapter) is generally regarded as a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt in its totality, and in its typical significance it points forward to the deliverance from sin through the death of Christ; and this again has its memorial in the Lord’s Supper, pointing forward to the feast of the Lamb in heaven. The feast of tabernacles, on the other hand, was expressly commemorative of the very temporary dwelling in booths (סֻכּוֹת = huts made of branches; the סֻכָּה is to be distinguished from the אֹהֶל = tent, the comparatively permanent dwelling of the wilderness) see Lev 23:42, 43, and comp. Ex. 12:37; 13:20.—F. G.]. * * *
“With regard to the natural aspect of the Israelitish feasts, they are divided into pre-Mosaic, Mosaic (for that the feasts here appointed belong to the original Mosaic legislation is admitted by Knobel), and later feasts.
“In the first class, however, can only be placed with certainty a tradition of the Sabbath, the feast of the new moon, and the harvest feast. Upon the heathen festal seasons see the full notes of Knobel, p. 537 sqq.
“It is however in the highest degree noteworthy, that the Israelitish ordering of the feasts forms an unmistakable contrast to the heathen customs. At the time of the Spring feast the Jewish Easter was kept, which, in connection with its unleavened bread, expresses a very solemn meaning, and is not at all to be judged by the Christian Easter. At the time of the autumnal equinox, however, when the Syrians (and the Egyptians) mourned over the death of Adonis the summer sun (like the Germanic Baldur), the Jews kept their most joyful feast, and freely used the green branches of summer before they faded.” [The contrast would bear to be even more strongly expressed, for the feast of Tabernacles occurred more than a month later than the autumnal equinox.—F. G.]. “It was as if they had wished to celebrate the triumph of the theocratic spirit over the natural sadness for the death of beautiful nature; as they certainly accent the blessing of God and His judgment in this present life in contrast to the dark Egyptian necromancy with its prophecy inspired this side the grave, and in contrast to the melancholy cultus of the world of death beyond the grave.
“As to the explanation of the apparently superfluous days in the seven day feasts, the eighth day of unleavened bread, and the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles (a question which also concerns the 50th week of the 50th year as a year of Jubilee), it is certainly sufficient to say, that the festal close of such great days or weeks and years was to be particularly emphasized. (Comp. Knobel, p. 549).
“The second Easter day as the feast of the first beginning of the harvest, the beginning of the barley harvest, the feast of the ears (Abib, ear month), corresponds to the completed wheat harvest which was celebrated at the feast of Tabernacles (later, Pentecost because fifty days were reckoned from Easter to its celebration), and both these harvest feasts, of the necessities of life and of the abundance of life, form a contrast to the harvest feast of joy [feast of Tabernacles] for the refreshing and comforting gifts of God, the fruit, the oil and the wine.
“A strikingly isolated position is given to the feast of Pentecost between the other feasts. Since as the chief harvest feast it seems to be only a natural feast, there was sought, and later, there was also found, in addition to its natural aspect, a holy and theocratic aspect also, in that this feast has been described as the feast of the law (since Maimonides. See on the other hand Keil, p. 151”) [Translation p. 444, note]. * * *
“The increased sacrifices of the yearly feasts must form a symbolical expression of the self-surrender of the nation to Jehovah, renewed by the feasts, as it was elevated by the thanksgiving for His gifts,—the ever new gifts of creation, the ever new gifts of atonement and of deliverance.
“That which makes feasts to be feasts is as follows: 1) They are high seasons appointed by God, seasons of the fulfilment of Divine promise and of human hope. 2) Seasons in which the union of God and man, as well as of men with one another, and thus fellowship with God and brotherhood with man was celebrated. 3) Seasons in which nature, together with man, appears in the dress of theocratic sanctification. 4) In which the highest happiness of human fellowship arises from the highest joyfulness of sacrifice to Jehovah. 5) Seasons which have a great sequence, and form a chain from the feast of deliverance in the night of judgment and of fear (Passover) to the feast of holy freedom and joy (Tabernacles).” Lange.
In regard to the times of the festivals, it is to be remembered that God in His dealings with man always shows a tender regard for the nature with which He has constituted man. The Hebrew festivals were therefore so arranged as to combine the most important religious memorials and types with the occasions of national and social need. The Passover was the greatest of all the annual festivals of the Hebrews, and was the only one resting upon a distinct historical and miraculous event, and the only one, too, the neglect of which was accompanied with the penalty of excision (Num. 9:13). The obligation to observe it was so urgent upon every adult circumcised Israelite, that alone of all the feasts it had attached to it a second observance at the same time in the following month for those who were prevented from keeping it by absence on a journey, or by defilement from contact with a dead body—the only causes which interfered with the eating of the paschal lamb. Historically, it was far more generally observed than either of the other festivals. Attached to this, and often included in the general name of Passover, was the week of unleavened bread; but the strictness of the command for the observance of the Passover itself did not apply to this. See Deut. 16:7. The Passover was celebrated in the month Abib or Nisan; and this month, as the month of the great national deliverance from Egypt, became the first of the ecclesiastical year. Just at this time occurred the beginning of the barley harvest, and the festival for this was accordingly so associated with the Passover, that a sheaf of the first-fruits was to be waved before the Lord on the morrow after the Sabbath. The time of the feast of weeks, or Pentecost, was determined by the Passover, from which it was distant just fifty-two days, as we still reckon from Good-Friday to Whitsunday; for seven weeks complete, or forty-nine days were reckoned from “the morrow after the Sabbath,” or the second day after the eating of the Paschal lamb itself, making fifty-one days, and then the feast was to be held on the following day. The symbolism of the sevens is therefore to be sought rather in the means of computing the time than in the relation of the festivals to one another. Pentecost occurred at the close of the grain harvest, and was celebrated as a thanksgiving, with especial liberality to the poor and needy in remembrance that the Israelites themselves had been bondmen in Egypt. (Deut. 16:9–12). This feast continued but a single day, and its distinguishing rite was the waving before the Lord of two leavened loaves prepared from the first fruits of the wheat.
With the coming in of the seventh month the civil year began. Of the existence of this year as distinguished from the ecclesiastical year, there can be no reasonable doubt. It has indeed been called in question; “but the form of expression in Ex. 12:2, the commencement of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years in the month Ethanim, or Tisri, the tradition of both the rabbinical and Alexandrian Jews, and the fact that the new moon festival of Tisri is the only one—not excepting that of Nisan—which is distinguished by peculiar observance, seem to bear sufficient testimony to a more ancient computation of time than that instituted by Moses in connection with the Passover. Another argument is furnished by Ex. 23:16.” Clark. Accordingly, as generally in all times and among all nations, the New Year was ushered in by a special observance. Among the Hebrews this took the form of “the Feast of Trumpets.” This was marked by “an holy convocation;” but attendance upon it was not obligatory. On the tenth day of the same month occurred the solemn fast of the Day of Atonement already treated in Lev 16. Both these continued but a single day. On the fifteenth day of the same month (which was thus far more marked by religious solemnities than any other), began the Feast of Tabernacles, continuing for seven days with “an holy convocation” following on the eighth day. The attendance obligatory at this would naturally have led to a large presence of the people on the Day of Atonement, only five days before. It was the great harvest festival at the close of the agricultural season, corresponding to our Thanksgiving day, and was very joyfully celebrated. It was also connected with the theocratic system by the injunction to dwell in booths in memory of the Exodus from Egypt.
With all these, and pervading them, was the weekly Sabbath, a remembrance in its recurrence of God’s rest from the work of creation (Ex. 20:11), and in its determination to the seventh day of the week of the deliverance from Egypt (Deut. 5:15).
In regard to the detail of these several festivals, see the Exegetical.
The Jews were prohibited by the law from all work only on the fifty-two weekly Sabbaths and on the Day of Atonement; they were also prohibited from all servile work on the days of holy convocation, viz. two each in connection with the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, one at the Feast of Pentecost, and one at the New Moon of Tisri, the seventh month. There is no prescription in the law in regard to cessation of work on the other New Moons; but from Amos 8:5 they appear to have been, at least in later times, observed as Sabbaths. These would make in all seventy days, which would be reduced somewhat by the occurrence of some of the other days, and especially of the festival Sabbaths, one year with another, upon the weekly Sabbath; but on several of these days the prohibition extended only to servile work, and the feasts were probably largely used like European fairs, for purposes of trade. See a slightly different computation in Michaelis, Laws, Art. 201.
The three greater festivals, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, were required to be observed by the assembling of the whole adult male population at the place of the sanctuary. This was doubtless fully carried out during the life in the wilderness, but does not appear to have been ever completely observed in subsequent history. All these festivals were, however, attended by large numbers, and the devouter part of the people went up to the sanctuary at least once in the year (1 Sam. 1:3, 21; Luke 2:41, etc.), which appears to have been most commonly at the Passover. The women were not obliged, but were allowed to attend, and frequently did so, as well as partake of the Paschal lamb.
Besides these annual feasts, there were the Sabbatical years, when the land was required to lie fallow, and all fruits were common property. This command could hardly have been complied with at all until after the return from the captivity (see 2 Chron. 36:21), and the existence of such an unobserved law is a strong proof of the genuineness of the Mosaic legislation. There was also the Year of Jubilee, the fiftieth year, which as it affected the tenure of land that had been sold, is likely to have been more continuously observed. It certainly was recognized in the days of Jeremiah (Jer. 32:6–15). On the question whether it had continued to be observed in the intervening time, see Maimonides and Ewald in the affirmative, Michaelis (Laws, Art. 76) and Winer (sub voce), who are in doubt, and Kranold (p. 80) and Hupfeld (pt. iii., p. 20), who confidently deny that the provisions for this year ever came into actual operation.
Precisely what was meant by an holy convocation we have no means of ascertaining, except from the word itself. Doubtless in the wilderness life it would have meant a general assembling of the people for the purposes of the day, and the same sense may be held to apply to the three great festivals when all males were required to appear at the place of the sanctuary, but this cannot be true, after the settlement in Canaan, of the weekly Sabbath and of the Day of Atonement. Probably there were on these days gatherings for religious edification accompanied with rest from work in the various towns and villages throughout the land, just as there were in the Synagogues after the return from the Captivity. There were also probably such gatherings at the time of the Convocations of the greater festivals of those who did not go up to the Sanctuary.
Besides the weekly Sabbaths, there were in all seven Convocations in the year: the first and last days of the feasts of unleavened bread, and of Tabernacles, the days of Pentecost and of Atonement, and the Feast of Trumpets.
1AND the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts [unto them, The appointed times of the LORD which ye shall proclaim as holy convocations, these are my appointed times1].
3Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest,2 an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
4These3 are the feasts of the LORD, even [These appointed times1 of the LORD are] holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons [appointed times1].
5In the fourteenth day4 of the first month at even is the LORD’S passoLev 23:6And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread. 7In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile5 work therein. 8But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
9And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 10Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf6 of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: 11and he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb [a ram7] without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD. 13And the meat offering [oblation8] thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the9 drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. 14And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn [grain], nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
15And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths10 shall be complete: 16even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath10 shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering [oblation8] unto the LORD. 17Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves11 of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD. 18And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs [rams7] without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two [full-grown12] rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the LORD, with their meat offering [oblation8], and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the LORD. 19Then ye shall sacrifice one kid [buck13] of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs [rams7] of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs [rams7]: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest. 21And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.
22And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.
23And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 24Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath [a sabbath rest14], a memorial of blowing of trumpets,15 an holy convocation. 25Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
26And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 27Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be [only the tenth of this seventh month is16] a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD. 28And ye shall do no work in that same day.: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God. 29For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations 32in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest,2 and ye shall afflict your souls; in the ninth day of the month at even,17 from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath [your rest18].
33And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, 34Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD. 35On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 36Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly,19 and ye shall do no servile work therein.
37These are the feasts [appointed times1] of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering [an oblation8], a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: 38beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.
39Also [Only16] in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered [at your gathering in20] in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath. 40And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs [fruit21] of goodly trees,22 branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees,23 and willows of the brook; 41and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month. 42Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 43that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.
44And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts [appointed times1] of the LORD.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Lev 23:2. The word מועֵד according to all authorities means primarily a fixed, appointed time (Gen. 21:2; Jer. 8:7, etc.) and it is so translated in Lev 23:4 in their seasons. Thence it came to be used for the festivals occurring at set times (Zech. 8:19). Besides these meanings the word has the divided signification of the assembly which came together at these times, and then the assembly or congregation generally (whence the expression Tabernacle of congregation), and then also the place of the assembly. The derivative significations are here out of the question. It occurs in this chapter five times, and is not elsewhere used in Lev. except in the phrase Tabernacle of congregation. With the same exception, it is uniformly translated time or season (set or appointed) in Gen. and Ex., and generally in Num. The translation four times by feasts in this chap. is therefore exceptional and supported only by a few instances in Num. It is better therefore to conform the translation here to the usage. There is a difficulty with either translation in the fact that a holy convocation was not proclaimed on the Day of Atonement;—that is broadly applied to all, which was strictly true of nearly all the particulars mentioned. But feasts labors under the further disadvantage that the Day of atonement was a fast.
Lev 23:3. The translation necessarily fails to convey the full force of the Heb. שַׁכַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן a very strong expression used only of the days and years of rest appointed in the Mosaic legislation.
Lev 23:4. The Heb. has אֵלֶּה, the Sam. prefixes ו. According to Houbigant the former refers to what has preceded, the latter to what follows. In this case the Sam. reading is preferable.
Lev 23:5. The missing יוֹם is supplied in 15 MSS. and the Sam.
Lev 23:7. “מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדהָ, occupation of a work, signifies labor at some definite occupation, e.g., the building of the tabernacle, Ex. 35:24; 36:1, 3; hence occupation in connection with trade or one’s social calling, such as agriculture, handicraft, etc.; whilst מְלָאכָה is the performance of any kind of work, e.g., kindling fire for cooking food (Ex. 35:2, 3).” Keil.
Lev 23:10. עֹמֶר. The A. V. is probably right in translating here sheaf, which according to the lexicographers is the primary meaning of the word. See Deut. 24:19; Ruth 2:7, 15, etc. It is so translated by the LXX., Vulg., and Luther, as well as by Gesen., Fürst, Lee, and others. On the other hand Josephus (Ant. iii. 10, 5), and the Mishna, take it in its de rived and more usual sense of an Omer, viz., of the flour from the grain, offered with oil and frankincense as an oblation. Perhaps in later times the omer of the flour was substituted for the original sheaf of the grain.
Lev 23:12. כֶּבֶשׂ. See Textual Note 5 on 3:7. Here the sex is indicated.
Lev 23:13. מִנְחָתוֹ. See Textual Note 2 on 2:1. The pronoun is masc. with reference to the sex of the sacrifice.
Lev 23:13. The A. V. here and in the previous clause substitutes the def. art. for the masc. pronoun. The Heb, text נִסְכּה is pointed in accordance with the k’ri נסכו which is also the Sam. reading.
Lev 23:15. Some critics (Keil, Clark, and others) would render here and in 25:8 seven weeks, in accordance with the use of שַׁבָּת in the Talmud, and of σάββατον in the N. T. The word seems to be used here, however, rather by a figure of speech as in 25:2, 4, etc., and the definite meaning of week to be of later origin. The תְּמִימֹת on which Keil relies, agrees with the main idea.
Lev 23:17. The Sam. here supplies the word חַלּוֹת which is uniformly translated cakes in the A. V., and may indicate the kind of bread used.
Lev 23:18 אֵילִם indicates strong and full-grown rams of maturer age than the כְּבָשׂים of the first clause. The Sam. 3 MSS. and LXX. add “without blemish.”
Lev 23:19. שְׂעִיר־עִזִּים. See Textual Note21 on 4:23.
Lev 23:24. שַׁבָּתוֹן here stands by itself without the שַׁבָּת used in Lev 23:3. When thus used by itself Rosenmüller says “de iis tantum feriis dicitur, quæ non in septimum hebdomadis diem, qui שַׁבָּת, cessatio ab opere κατ’ ἐξοχὴν dicitur, incidit.” It should therefore be rendered by another term, and the one suggested by Clark is adopted.
Lev 23:24. There is nothing in the Heb. corresponding to the words of trumpets, which should therefore be in italics. The Heb. reads simply זִכְרוֹן תְּרוּעָה = a memorial of a joyful noise. תְּרוּעָה is frequently used in connection with various kinds of trumpets and other instruments (Num. 31:6; Lev. 25:9; Ps. 150:5), denoting the clangor of those instruments, but it is also quite as frequently used without reference to an instrument of any kind (Num. 23:21; Job 8:21; 33:26; Ezra 3:11, 13, etc.). The silver trumpets of the temple were however blown on all the festivals, including the new moons (Num. 10:10), and there is no reason to question the tradition that on “the feast of trumpets” horns or cornets of some kind were blown generally throughout the land. The LXX. has μνημόσυνον σαλπίγγων, the Vulg. memoriale clangentibus tubis.
Lev 23:27. אַךְ is a particle of limitation, and thus in this case of emphasis. It is better to omit the italicised words there shall be, and translate according to the usual construction of a Heb. clause ending with הוּא.
Lev 23:32. The word בָּעֶרֶב = at even is omitted in one MS., LXX., and Vulg.
Lev 23:32. The margin of the A. V. is more correct than the text. The Heb. is תִּשְׁבְּתוּ שַׁבַּתְּכֶם.
Lev 23:36. עֲצֶרֶב is a word the signification of which has been much questioned. The translation of the LXX. ἐξόδίόν ἐστι, meaning the close of the festival, is defended by Fürst, and adopted by Patrick; so also Theodoret, referring not only to this feast, but to the whole cycle of feasts, τὸ τέλος τῶν ἑορτῶν, and so also Keil. Michaelis, using an Arabic etymology, interprets it of pressing out the grapes. The sense of the margin of the A. V. day of restraint is said to be advocated by Iken in a special dissertation (Con. Ikenii Dissertatt. Ludg. Batav. 1749) and is adopted by Abarbanel and other Jewish writers. The text of the A. V. assembly is defended by Rosenmüller (3d Ed.), advocated by Gesenius, and is that given by onkeios, the Vulg., and Syr. The LXX. also elsewhere translates the word πανήγυρις (Amos. 5:2) and σύνοδος (Jer. 9:2). The word occurs but ten times, in five of which it refers to the last day of one of the great feasts, and in one other (Jer. 9:2 ) it clearly means assembly. Josephus (Ant. iii. 10, 6) applies it as a customary phrase to the feast of Pentecost. It is the day referred to in Jno. 7:37 as “the last day, that great day of the feast.”
Lev 23:39. בְּאָסְפְכֶם. It is better to preserve the indefiniteness of the original which does not determine whether the harvest was already fully gathered. Clark thinks that this could rarely have been the case.
Lev 23:40. The Heb., as noted in the margin of the A. V., is fruit, and it is better to retain the word even if it be explained (Keil) of “the shoots and branches of the trees.” According to the most ancient traditions, however, it was customary at this feast to carry in one hand some fruit, and the word is retained in all the ancient versions.
Lev 23:40. עֵץ הָדָר, lit. ornamental trees, a generic word including the various kinds specified just below. So the Sam., LXX., Syr., and Vulg., the lexicons, and most interpreters. Jewish tradition, however, incorporated into the Targums and Josephus (Ant. xiii. 13, 5) understands it specifically of the Citron.
Lev 23:40. עֵץ־עָבֹת. The rendering of the A. V. is sustained by almost all authorities, meaning trees of various kinds having thick foliage. The Targums all interpret it specifically of myrtles, which cannot be right, as in the account of the celebration of this feast in Neh. 8:15 the myrtle and the thick trees are distinguished.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
This chapter consists of five Divine communications to Moses, beginning respectively with Lev 23:1, 9, 23, 26 and 33, all of which, except that concerning the day of Atonement, Lev 23:26, he is directed to speak unto the children of Israel. The first of these (1–8) relates to the weekly Sabbath, the Passover, and the following feast of unleavened bread; the second (9–22) to the wave sheaf in connection with the last feast, and the feast of weeks, or Pentecost; the third (23–25) to the civil New Year, or the New Moon of the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year; the fourth (26–32) to the great Day of Atonement; the last (33–44) to the feast of tabernacles.
Lev 23:2 forms the heading or introduction to the whole chapter. This is a full list of all those days and years, all the appointed times which the Lord had marked out as to be separated and distinguished from the ordinary course of the daily life; yet it does not include the ordinary new moons on which special sacrifices were also to be offered. Num. 28:11–15.
Lev 23:3. First of all comes the weekly Sabbath, a day to be observed by a total cessation from all work and by an holy invocation. On the last expression see the close of the preliminary note. The weekly Sabbath is placed in the same way before the annual appointed times in Ex. 23:12–17; Num. 28:9—29. No reason is here given for this observance. It was certainly pre-Mosaic, and in the fourth commandment is made to rest upon the example of the Divine cessation from the works of creation. But this refers only to the observance of rest in a proportionate part of the time—one day in every seven, and therefore has no bearing upon the actual length of the creative work. In the repetition of the commandments in Deut. 5, the observance of this rest on the particular day of the week, Saturday, is grounded on the deliverance from Egypt, that great mark of the Divine favor and national birth-day which enters more or less into nearly all the feasts.
A great part of Lange’s Exegetical under this chapter has been already given in the preliminary note. All that follows what is given there will be found below.
“1. The Sabbath.—The six days of work are the foundation and the condition of the rest of the seventh day. The prohibition not only of servile labor (עֲבֹדָה), but also of the higher and freer business (מְלָאכָה), forces the nobler sort of men directly to look in upon themselves, to devotion, and so to celebrate the feast. The Sabbath Sabbathon (the Sabbath feast) has, however, been here already appointed for the assembling in the Sanctuary, a thing which was possible in the desert journeys, and later in Canaan, was fulfilled by the substitution of the synagogues (see Winer, Synagogen), and thus was the germ of all festivals.” Lange. On the interval of nearly a thousand years between the desert journeys and the institution of Synagogues, see preliminary note.
The weekly Sabbaths are in a sense included among the appointed times of Lev 23:2, but yet are distinguished from them by the fresh heading of Lev 23:4 and by Lev 23:37, 38. They were indeed appointed times, but appointed from the creation of man, not first prescribed by the Mosaic law. The expression at the close of the verse in all your dwellings is interpreted by the Jewish writers to mean everywhere, in or out of the Holy Land. Certainly it is thus comprehensive; but the expression is more important as distinguishing the convocation of these days from those of the annual festivals. These were to be celebrated at home, in each town and village and hamlet, and thus “kept alive the knowledge and piety of the simple yeoman in all the land.… This single verse affords an interesting prospect of the unwritten history of Israel’s rural piety.” Murphy.
Lev 23:4–8. Lev 23:4 is simply the heading in substance of Lev 23:2 repeated to distinguish the annual from the weekly festival. Lev 23:5–8 relate to the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread, which are here, as in Ex. 12 and Num. 28:16, 17, clearly distinguished from each other. The same distinction is observed by Josephus (Ant. III. 10, 5), but both names came to be used interchangeably as in the New Test., especially in St. John. Of all the annual festivals the Passover came first in the cycle of the ecclesiastical year, first in the great historic event it commemorated, first in its obligation, and first in its spiritual and typical significance. The Paschal lamb was to be slain on the 14th Nisan “between the evenings,” and eaten in the following evening, i.e. according to the Hebrew division of the days, on the beginning of the 15th. But with the 15th began the first day of holy convocation, so that the two feasts were thus actually blended into one. Lange: “2. The feast of unleavened bread.—With this begin the feasts in the more peculiar sense, which were proclaimed, and in Canaan are also feasts of convocation of Israel at the sanctuary (for the male youth and men).… The 15th day is particularly the feast of Mazzoth, which lasts seven days, but in such wise that only the first and last day are in the more strict sense festival days which exclude all business. To these two feasts was appended in a certain sense as a third the preliminary feast of the harvest. It speaks for the antiquity of the text that this feast was postponed to the future. Not until they came into Palestine could Israel gather in harvests and offer sheaves of the first fruits. The first sheaf cut from the first field produce is meant, viz. barley (on the barley harvest in Palestine, see Keil, p. 148).” [Trans., p. 439. Keil refers to Philo and Josephus for the statement that the sheaf was of barley, and says this is not expressly mentioned because it was a matter of course. “In the warmer parts of Palestine the barley ripens about the middle of April, and is reaped in April or the beginning of May, whereas the wheat ripens two or three weeks later (Seetzen; Robinson’s Pal. ii. 263, 278).” F. G.] “The sheaf was to be waved before Jehovah. Does this mean: hallowed indeed to Jehovah, but given to the priest? So it seems from Lev 23:20. But according to Ex. 29:24, 27, that which was waved was in part brought to the altar and in part designated as for Moses [i.e. for Aaron and his sons]. So the sanctification to Jehovah was to be the principal idea of the waving, but certainly with the secondary idea that it was only ideally offered to Jehovah for the use of the priest. The first day of the Mazzoth was reckoned as a Sabbath, and the sheaf of the first fruits was presented on the second of the seven days. That day was distinguished by a festal sacrifice. But the sacrifice is small, for the year is yet poor—of less value than the later sacrifices: one lamb for the burnt offering, two tenths (of an Ephah) of wheat flour moistened with oil for the oblation, to which was added the fourth part of an hin for a drink offering. Under this condition only was Israel acceptable in its preliminary feast of the harvest, and the prohibition is a very prominent thing: before Jehovah has received His sheaf of the first, fruits nothing of the new bread can be eaten. A law for posterity! says the legislation in the wilderness.” [The first Divine communication of this chapter closes with Lev 23:8. It contains the command for the observance of the Sabbath, of the Passover, and the general direction for the observance of the feast of unleavened bread. Here it ends, and a new communication begins with Lev 23:9, and extends to Lev 23:22 containing the commands for the wave sheaf, which was a part of the feast of unleavened bread, and for the feast of Pentecost. The reason for this apparent dislocation of the logical arrangement is obvious: what was directed in the first communication was to be immediately observed during the wilderness life, while the wave sheaf and Pentecost could not be, and were not intended to be observed until the entrance upon the land of Canaan. There is here therefore an incidental, but very strong evidence of the date of this legislation. At any other time than during the wilderness-life, all the precepts for the feast of unleavened bread would certainly have been arranged in the same paragraph. Lev 23:11. On the morrow after the Sabbath.—Various opinions have been held in regard to this Sabbath. According to the Bœthoseans (see Lightfoot on Luke 6:1) the beginning of the ecclesiastical year was so arranged that the Passover always fell on the Sabbath, and consequently “the morrow after the Sabbath” and the feast of Pentecost were always observed on the first day of the week. This opinion has been adopted by several modern authorities, as Hitzig, Hupfeld, Knobel, Kurtz. The two former of these think that the sheaf was waved after the conclusion of the feast on the 22d of the month; the two latter, on the 15th, the first day of holy convocation. It has been confuted by Bähr and Weiseler, and is rejected by Keil and Clark on the ground that such an arrangement would involve a broken or partial week almost invariably at the close of the year, which is of course inadmissible. It may be added further that the first day and the seventh day of the feast could not possibly have both fallen upon the weekly Sabbath, and that the provision for both is the same (Lev 23:7, 8) forbidding only servile work. Another opinion is that the Sabbath was that weekly Sabbath which must occur on one of the days of the feast. This was the view of the Sadducees and of the Karaite Jews, but while it rests upon no positive support, seems sufficiently refuted by the argument of Keil (note, p. 440) that “if the Sabbath was not fixed, but might fall upon any day of the seven days’ feast of Mazzoth, and therefore as much as five or six days after the Passover, the feast of Passover itself would be forced out of the fundamental position which it occupied in the series of annual festivals (comp. Ranke, Pentateuch II. 108).” The better view is that found in the LXX., Philo, Josephus, the Targums, and the Rabbinical writers generally, and which seems most in accordance with the text itself, that the Sabbath was simply the festival Sabbath, the 15th Abib, on whatever day of the week it might happen to fall. So Lange below. The sheaf of first fruits was then waved on the 16th, and from that day the time was reckoned to the feast of Pentecost. “By offering the sheaf of first fruits of the harvest, the Israelites were to consecrate their daily bread to the Lord their God, and practically to acknowledge that they owed the blessing of the harvest to the grace of God.” Keil. The offerings of Lev 23:12, 13, were especially connected with the wave sheaf, and were additional to the regular feast day sacrifices prescribed in Num. 28:19–24. The oblation was doubled (see Ex. 29:40; Num. 15:4; 28:21) as was appropriate to a harvest festival; but the drink offering (which in Leviticus is mentioned only here and in Lev 23:18, 37) remained as usual. Lev 23:14. Bread .… parched grain .… green ears are the three forms in which grain was commonly eaten, and the expression is equivalent to forbidding its use in any form whatever before the waving of the sheaf of first-fruits.—F. G.].
“3. The Feast of Weeks. [Lev 23:15–22]. Determination of the time: From the second day of the Mazzoth seven Sabbaths were counted, i.e., forty-nine days. The following day, the fiftieth, is the feast of weeks (הַג שָׁבֻעֹת). The leading thought is the new oblation which was brought to Jehovah from the completed grain harvest. It was to be brought out of all dwellings, and thus not out of the regular temple revenues: two wave loaves of two-tenths (of an Ephah) of fine wheaten flour. The baked bread must be leavened, which shows that leaven does not, in and of itself, signify the evil (comp. Comm. on Matt. p. 197) [11:33, Am. Ed., p. 245]. This was the first-fruits of the whole grain harvest which must be hallowed to Jehovah before the bread from the new harvest might be eaten.” [This is not stated in the Text, and while it was undoubtedly true in regard to the wheat, must not be understood to include also the barley which it became lawful to use immediately after the offering of the wave sheaf during the feast of unleavened bread.—F. G.]. “The year has now become richer, and hence seven lambs must be offered for a burnt offering besides a young ox (bullock) and two rams, and with all these the proportionate drink offerings. Besides these there was a he-goat for the sin offering—hardly with reference to the unleavened bread (according to Keil, p. 151), but certainly with reference to the sins which were wont to accompany the harvesting.” [The precise remark of Keil, (trans. p. 443) is as follows: “The sin offering was to excite the feeling and consciousness of sin on the part of the congregation of Israel, that whilst eating their daily leavened bread they might not serve the leaven of their old nature, but seek and implore from the Lord their God the forgiveness and cleansing away of their sin.” It is to be observed that this sin offering was neither that required for a definite sin of the whole congregation, a bullock (4:14), nor yet that for an individual, a she-goat (ib. 28), but was the same as that required for a prince (ib. 23). The reason for it is to be sought, not in any especial and definite sin, but in that general and continual sinfulness which the chosen people were commanded to recognize on all occasions of especial solemnity.—F. G.]. “Finally two lambs as a peace offering, or thank offering, closed the feast. These peace offerings were waved with the loaves of first-fruits, i.e., were sanctified to Jehovah, and then fell to the priest. A principal direction for even this day is that it was proclaimed as a convocation of the sanctuary, and that on it even domestic work itself was forbidden as well as servile labor.” [The text however (Lev 23:21) contains only the prohibition of servile work. It is noticeable that this Pentecostal offering of two young rams was the only peace offering required of the whole congregation in the Mosaic ritual.—F. G.]. “With this memorable religious command is connected the humane one, that the reaper of the harvest must let some remain in the borders of the field, and that gleaning was forbidden in favor of the poor (comp. Ruth). It is plainly said again with this command: I am the Lord your God.” [This feast was not to be observed until ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and Theodoret (Qu. 32 in Lev.), says that it then “renewed the memory of the entrance into the land of promise.” Since Maimonides (see Lange above) it has been customary to connect it with the giving of the law. Neither of these associations, however, rest on any sure foundation. In Ex. 34:22 this festival is more particularly described, as indeed is implied here, as the first-fruits of the wheat harvest. The loaves differed from all ordinary oblations in being leavened, as an offering from the people’s daily bread to the Lord who had blessed the harvest (comp. 2:11, 12), but in accordance with the general law, they were not to be placed upon the altar. “The injunction out of your habitations is not to be understood, as Calvin and others suppose [so also Corn. a Lapide, and Lange above], as signifying that every householder was to present two such loaves; it simply expresses the idea, that they were to be loaves made for the daily food of a household, and not prepared expressly for holy purposes.” Keil. A moment’s reflection upon the immense mass of bread that would be required from the 600,000 men of Israel to be eaten only by the priests and their families, is sufficient to show that Keil’s explanation must be right. The victims to be offered, according to Lev 23:18, 19, differ from those prescribed in Num. 28:28–31 for the same occasion in two particulars: there is no mention there of the peace offerings required here (Lev 23:19), but this is merely a difference in the particularity of the command which frequently occurs; and there two young bullocks and one ram are required, while here it is one of the former and two of the latter, the offerings in all other respects being the same. On this account many commentators have supposed that the offerings in Num. were simply a festival enlargement of the daily burnt offering, while those here commanded were additional sacrifices accompanying the special rites of the festival. It can hardly, however, be considered a rash conjecture that in one place or the other the numerals may have changed places in the hands of the scribes. Josephus (Ant. iii. 10, 5) follows the statement in Num. Lev 23:19, 20. The sin and peace offerings were to be waved. According to Jewish tradition this was accomplished by leading the animals backwards and forwards according to an established custom. With the waving of the sin offering comp. the waving of the leper’s trespass offering, 14:12. The flesh of both these offerings, unlike the ordinary peace offerings, was to belong to the priest. Lev 23:21. On the selfsame day. The feast of weeks is distinguished from the two other great festivals in lasting but a single day; but it is said to have been the custom in later times to give a festal character to the six days following, and to continue to offer abundant sacrifices upon them. The feast is only described here as an holy convocation, and is called the feast of harvest in Ex. 23:16, the feast of weeks, of the first-fruits of wheat harvest,Ex. 34:22; Deut. 16:10, day of the first-fruitsNum. 28:26. The name Pentecost belongs to a later time, and appears in the Apocrypha (Tobit 2:1; 2 Macc. 12:32), and in the N. Test. (Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Cor. 16:8). By Jewish writers it is frequently called עֲצֶרֶת (see Text. Note 19 on Lev 23:36), Gr. Ἀσαρθά. As in nature the ripening of the later grain was connected with that of the earlier, so in the law the time of the festival for the one was made dependent upon that of the other; just as when the type was absorbed in the Antitype the descent of the Holy Ghost was dependent upon the Resurrection of Christ, the First-fruits from the dead on the morrow after the Sabbath of the Passover; and the commemoration festival of Whitsunday has ever been observed by the Christian Church in dependence upon Easter. In Lev 23:22 the command already given in 19:9, 10, is appropriately repeated in connection with the harvest feast, and this is again reiterated in Deut. 24:19 in connection with precepts of kindness to the needy.
Lev 23:23–25. Here begins a fresh Divine communication (the third of this chapter) because the present feast was, like those of the first, to come into immediate use. Lange: “4. The feast of Trombones, or the new-moon feast of the seventh day of the first month.” [This is apparently a slip of the pen for the first day of the seventh month.—F. G.]. “The lesser new moon feasts are not mentioned here: they belong more to the ordinary life of the people and to the State (hence Num. 28:11). Also the seventh new moon is here only very briefly mentioned, and significantly described as Sabbathon Zikron, as a feast Sabbath which was to be a Sabbath of memorial. The festal remembrance, however, had respect to the new holy season which dawned with the seventh month. Thus as the first feasts—Easter, Mazzoth, and First-fruits—form a trilogy, so the great new moon feast makes also a trilogy with the following Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles. It is a feast of joyous sounds (תְּרוּעָח) to awaken a national festal disposition by means of a festival blowing, not however with ‘trumpets’ which were not ordered till Num. 10, and with their clear piercing tone were fitted for the march of the army of God; but with the deep droning of horns, trombones, which like bells, rather affect deeply than arouse.” There is nothing said in the text of any instrument, see Textual Note 15 on Lev 23:24: but as the silver trumpets were to be blown on all the new moons, and on all other festal occasions (Num. 10:10), they must have been blown also on this new moon, whatever other instruments may have been used besides. “In the modern service of the Synagogue, Ps. 81 is used at the feast of Trumpets.” Clark. The general view of the Rabbinists is said to have been that it was a commemoration of the creation when “all the sons of God shouted for joy,” Job 38:7. Other commemorations, equally fanciful, have been proposed, but it is unnecessary to look beyond the fact that it was New Year’s day. This being a feast when it was not required that all the people should appear at the Sanctuary, the “holy convocation” was probably observed, like the weekly Sabbath, in each town and village throughout the land. Nevertheless a special burnt offering (Lev 23:25) was to be offered at the Sanctuary, and this is specified in Num. 29:1–6, as consisting of a bullock, a ram, and seven lambs, with their oblations and drink offerings.
Lev 23:26–32. A new communication is made in regard to the Day of Atonement, not for the reasons given before, but to mark the importance of the day. This subject has been so fully treated in Lev 16 that little need be said here. It was on this day and not on the first of the month that the year of Jubilee was to be proclaimed (25:9). On this day also the people were not required to assemble at the Sanctuary, and the holy convocation must have been kept at their homes. Lange: “5. The Day of Atonement. It is a noticeable anomaly that it falls upon the tenth day. Ten is the number of the closed history, the reckoning up of the double five, the well-used or badly-used freedom, the number of judgment. The Day of Atonement forms the climax as a day of purification, Lev 16; here it is an introduction, a preliminary condition for the great feast of Tabernacles (this relation is shown by the אַךְ Lev 23:27.” [“By the restrictive אַךְ, the observance of the day of atonement is represented a priori as a peculiar one. The אַךְ refers less to the tenth day, than to the leading directions respecting this feast.” Keil]. Num. 29:7 supplies still a third meaning, as a social or political fast day. It was named the day of expiation (הַכִּפֻרִים). Ye shall afflict your souls; Luther translates arbitrarily: ‘Ye shall afflict your body, mortify your body, mortify your bodies.’ Certainly from the expression of the original text, the fast is meant in Isa. 58:3, etc. In order that the neglect might be visible and could be punished, and that the limits might be fixed, it is said: from even unto even. For this feast also, as well as the former one, every business (not only labor) was forbidden.” [This cannot be meant of the new moon of the seventh month, on which only servile work (Lev 23:25) was forbidden.—F. G.]. “The great rigor is to be noticed with which the penalty of death was threatened for every transgression against the rest of the Sabbath and against the fast.”
Lev 23:33–36. The ordinance for the feast of Tabernacles is given in a separate communication since this was not to be observed until the entrance into the land of Canaan. Lange: “6. The feast of Tabernacles (הַגּ הַסֻּכּוֹת). The feast is made prominent by being celebrated upon the 15th and not on the 14th day.” [Just as the feast of unleavened bread began on the 15th of the first month.—F. G.]. “And moreover, by being completed by an eighth day (עֲצֶרֶת), the closing festal assembly, see Jno. 7:37.” [There is here also an analogy to the feast of unleavened bread, the seven days of which were preceded by the day of the Passover. In strictness the eighth day was not a part of the feast which, in Lev 23:34 and 40, is declared to be of seven days, and in Deut. 16:13–15, and Ez. 45:25, there is no mention at all of the eighth day; and it is also distinguished from the days of the feast proper by the much smaller number of the victims to be offered in sacrifice, Num. 29:36. Moreover on this day among the Hebrews the booths were dismantled and the people returned to their houses.—F. G.]. “The first and eighth days are holy Sabbaths which exclude every kind of work.” [The text, however, Lev 23:35, 36, only forbids servile work.—F. G.]. “But everything else which distinguishes the feasts of the Lord, burnt offerings, oblations, etc., (Lev 23:37, 38) distinguish this feast abundantly.” [These offerings are specified in Num. 29:12–38. They consisted of a he-goat for a sin offering and a burnt offering on each day. The latter included two rams and fourteen lambs on each of the days, with a varying number of bullocks. Beginning with thirteen on the first day, they were diminished by one on each successive day, until on the seventh only seven were offered. The burnt offering of the eighth day was only one bullock, one ram, and seven lambs. In all seventy-one bullocks were wholly consumed upon the altar, together with fifteen rams and one hundred and five lambs.—F. G.]. “It is also again a double feast: in the first place the feast of the garnered harvest, the third harvest, which includes both the former ones, and especially hallows to the Lord the noblest produce of the land: the inspiriting fruits, for the children (fruit), for the old (wine), and for the priests (oil).” [The fruit, the oil, and the wine, were however all alike used by all classes in the community.—F. G.]. “And then, in the second place, it was the feast of the memorial of the booths in which Israel had dwelt in the wilderness. The sojourn in the wilderness must have been a hardship during a great part of the year, and they usually dwelt in tents; but then came the Spring and Summer time, when they could build booths, and such a time would be particularly festive, a picture of a paradisaical life of nature. And it is plain that here the subject must be neither the lasting sufferings of the wilderness nor the settlement in Canaan. Hence also the tents must be made from goodly trees.” [The feast of Tabernacles did not itself occur in the Spring or Summer, but late in the fall. a month or more after the autumnal equinox. No evidence is adduced to show that the Israelites in the wilderness at any time lived otherwise than in tents, and indeed during a large part of their wanderings the construction of booths would have been impossible from the scarcity of trees. The reference to the booths (succoth) seems to be rather to the first encampments of the Exodus (comp. Ex. 12:37; 13:20), when they must have been as yet very imperfectly supplied with tents.—F. G.]. “So the feast of tabernacles was the highest feast in Israel (a bright contrast to the feast of Purim introduced afterwards, which was darkened by fanaticism), and was a type of the highest and most beautiful Christian popular feasts. Upon the single feast comp. the Lexicons, also Keil (p. 153 [Trans. p. 446]), and Knobel (p. 549). That this feast could readily bring in peculiar temptations is shown by the story of the adulteress, Jno. 8.” [This inference must depend upon the decision that the passage referred to is a genuine part of the Gospel, and is found in its proper place. It is also further to be noticed that the women of Israel were not required to dwell in the booths.—F. G.]. “But we may see also partially from Jno. 7, how it had been in the course of time endowed with the richest symbolism, as a preacher-feast, as a fountain-feast, as a feast of lights, the culmination of the Old Testament festival seasons.” [It is noticeable that this feast was the time chosen by Solomon for the dedication of the temple, 1 Kings 8:2.—F. G.].
“Upon the observance of the line of feasts in the sabbatical year and year of Jubilee, see Lev 25. On the later Jewish feasts, see Bibl. Wörterbuch für das Christl. Volk under the article Feste. So too the feasts of the later Jews in Herzog’s Real-Encyclopädie.” For additional matter concerning this feast, see under verses 39–42.
In Lev 23:37, 38, is a summary distinctly specifying that these appointed times, with their offerings, are additional to the weekly Sabbaths mentioned in Lev 23:3, and their offerings. Beside the Sabbaths is comprehensive, including both the day and the sacrifice offered upon it. It means beside them in regard to the other appointed days, and beside their offerings as regards the offerings belonging to these.
Lev 23:39–43 contain additional directions for the feast of Tabernacles. Nothing has been said in the previous verses of the dwelling in booths, as the object there was only to treat of it as an appointed time with its days of holy convocation. Here, however, this is introduced by itself, as a necessary direction, yet so as not to disturb the singleness of view in which the whole cycle of feasts has been presented. There is no occasion, therefore, to suppose that this is a distinct document subsequently added. As this precept has reference simply to the dwelling in booths, there is no repetition of the command for the holy convocations, or for the sacrifices, and no mention of the eighth day, on which they returned to their houses. It was pre-eminently a joyous festival (Lev 23:40), as comported with its character as a harvest feast. On the Sabbatical year at this time the law was to be publicly read in the hearing of all the people of all classes, including the “strangers,” Deut. 31:9–13; Neh. 8:18.
In later times two significant customs were added to the daily observances of the feast. At the time of the morning sacrifice on each day a priest drew water from the pool of Siloam in a golden pitcher and bringing it in to the altar poured it out with the libation of wine. This probably suggested the words of our Lord in Jno. 7:37, 38. Also in the evening the men and women assembled together in the court of the women to rejoice over the ceremony of the morning, the occasion being marked by great hilarity. At this time two tall stands were set up in the court, each bearing four lamps of large size, the wicks being made of the cast off garments of the priests, and the oil supplied by the sons of the priests. Many of the people also carried flambeaux, and the light is said to have been cast over nearly the whole city. This ceremony seems to have called forth our Lord’s words in Jno. 8:12, “I am the Light of the world.” During both these ceremonies the choirs of Levites chanted appropriate psalms, and the people participated by carrying in their hands green branches and fruit. There is a curious contrast between the cycle of annual festivals in the Jewish and in the Christian Church; in both of them the festivals extend through about six months, but in the former, in which earthly blessings are everywhere prominent, it began with the 14th Nisan, and extended through the summer; in the latter, in which the thought is more directed to spiritual blessings, it begins with the early winter and extends round to the summer.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
I. The weekly Sabbath is the beginning and foundation of all the festivals, for herein God is acknowledged as the Creator of all things and of man. By that the people were joined to God, and so made ready for keeping the other festivals of His appointment. This was fixed for the older church upon the seventh day, in memorial of their deliverance from Egypt, the era of their national existence; just as for the Christian Church it is fixed upon the first day in memorial of Christ’s resurrection, on which rests the whole existence and constitution of that Church.
II. By the offering of the first-fruits to God the whole harvest was sanctified, comp. Rom. 11:16. Until this had been done, no Israelite might partake of the harvest at all. God’s gifts are freely bestowed upon men; but they may not lawfully appropriate them to their own use until they have acknowledged the Giver.
III. In the three harvest festivals the dominion of God over nature is emphatically asserted. It is asserted in opposition alike to that Pantheism which underlay so much of the ancient heathen mythology, and which would worship the earth itself as the giver of its fruits, while here the homage is rendered to the Lord of the earth as distinct from and infinitely exalted above the earth; and it is asserted in opposition to Deism, which would so separate the Deity from His works as to make them in a sense independent of Him, while here He is recognized as their immediate Ruler and the Author of every earthly blessing.
IV. Leaven, which is for the most part forbidden in oblations, and altogether prohibited from coming upon the altar, is here commanded for the wave offering of the first-fruits of the wheat harvest, very plainly for the express object of teaching that the ordinary food of the people is to be sanctified by an offering to God, and thus in all things He is first of all to be recognized.
V. The peculiarity of a peace offering from the whole congregation marks the Pentecostal feast alone. At the beginning of the wheat harvest, the principal harvest of human food, it was peculiarly appropriate that it should be marked by the sacrifice of communion with God.
VI. In connection with the feast of the harvest comes again into prominence the care for the poor in the prohibition of gleaning. God leaves the poor always with us that man may learn through them to imitate Himself in giving freely to those who need out of the abundance He has given to us.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Lange: “The feasts of the Lord and the festal ordinances (Lev 23). Their double basis: 1) the work, 2) the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the end of the trouble of labor, as Sunday is the beginning of festal work. The Old Testament feasts in the light of the New Testament. The Jewish Passover is a double feast; a type of Christmas and of Easter. The Jewish and the Christian Pentecostal feast. The Jewish feast of Atonement and the Christian Ascension-Day (comp. Heb. 9:24). The Jewish feast of Tabernacles and the Christian harvest feast. The threefold Jewish harvest feast, Easter, Pentecost and Tabernacles, a threefold type of the Divine blessing in the kingdom of nature, and in the kingdom of grace (the first-fruits, the daily bread, the festival wine). The great Day of Atonement, as a day of repentance, and as a day of the Gospel. Comparison between the Day of Atonement and Good-Friday, between Christmas and the feast of Tabernacles. How all feasts by their historical significance are linked with one another, and by their spiritual significance play into one another. The feast is made gay with green boughs.”
As the Sabbath is made the foundation of all festivals, so must the sanctification of the weekly day of rest ever be the condition of all acceptable consecration of “appointed times” to the Lord. The days on which no work at all might be done are only the weekly Sabbaths and the Day of Atonement; but the additional days on which no servile work might be done were nearly half as many more. These last therefore were days of rest to the slave and the hired laborer. The law would have days when the hard labor of life must cease without suspending its activity altogether, and gives its most numerous days of rest to those who must be employed in life’s drudgery.
The rejoicing before the Lord which is here, Lev 23:40, and in Deut. 16:11 commanded with especial reference to the feasts of Tabernacles and of Pentecost, is elsewhere made into a more general duty, Deut. 12:12, 18; 27:7. If joy was a commanded duty under the Old Dispensation, how much more under the Christian. See Phil. 4:4, etc.
The three great festivals were occasions of gathering all the males of Israel together, and promoting the sense of their common brotherhood. The effect in this regard of united worship is very plain. But especially at the feast of Tabernacles, all were required to dwell in booths, and for the time distinctions of rank and social position were levelled. Thus, as everywhere under the Old Dispensation, principles of the Gospel were taught by symbolical acts, and the brotherhood of all the people of God presented in sensible type and act.
1Lev 23:2. The word מועֵד according to all authorities means primarily a fixed, appointed time (Gen. 21:2; Jer. 8:7, etc.) and it is so translated in Lev 23:4 in their seasons. Thence it came to be used for the festivals occurring at set times (Zech. 8:19). Besides these meanings the word has the divided signification of the assembly which came together at these times, and then the assembly or congregation generally (whence the expression Tabernacle of congregation), and then also the place of the assembly. The derivative significations are here out of the question. It occurs in this chapter five times, and is not elsewhere used in Lev. except in the phrase Tabernacle of congregation. With the same exception, it is uniformly translated time or season (set or appointed) in Gen. and Ex., and generally in Num. The translation four times by feasts in this chap. is therefore exceptional and supported only by a few instances in Num. It is better therefore to conform the translation here to the usage. There is a difficulty with either translation in the fact that a holy convocation was not proclaimed on the Day of Atonement;—that is broadly applied to all, which was strictly true of nearly all the particulars mentioned. But feasts labors under the further disadvantage that the Day of atonement was a fast.
2Lev 23:3. The translation necessarily fails to convey the full force of the Heb. שַׁכַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן a very strong expression used only of the days and years of rest appointed in the Mosaic legislation.
3Lev 23:4. The Heb. has אֵלֶּה, the Sam. prefixes ו. According to Houbigant the former refers to what has preceded, the latter to what follows. In this case the Sam. reading is preferable.
4Lev 23:5. The missing יוֹם is supplied in 15 MSS. and the Sam.
5Lev 23:7. “מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדהָ, occupation of a work, signifies labor at some definite occupation, e.g., the building of the tabernacle, Ex. 35:24; 36:1, 3; hence occupation in connection with trade or one’s social calling, such as agriculture, handicraft, etc.; whilst מְלָאכָה is the performance of any kind of work, e.g., kindling fire for cooking food (Ex. 35:2, 3).” Keil.
6Lev 23:10. עֹמֶר. The A. V. is probably right in translating here sheaf, which according to the lexicographers is the primary meaning of the word. See Deut. 24:19; Ruth 2:7, 15, etc. It is so translated by the LXX., Vulg., and Luther, as well as by Gesen., Fürst, Lee, and others. On the other hand Josephus (Ant. iii. 10, 5), and the Mishna, take it in its de rived and more usual sense of an Omer, viz., of the flour from the grain, offered with oil and frankincense as an oblation. Perhaps in later times the omer of the flour was substituted for the original sheaf of the grain.
7Lev 23:12. כֶּבֶשׂ. See Textual Note 5 on 3:7. Here the sex is indicated.
8Lev 23:13. מִנְחָתוֹ. See Textual Note 2 on 2:1. The pronoun is masc. with reference to the sex of the sacrifice.
9Lev 23:13. The A. V. here and in the previous clause substitutes the def. art. for the masc. pronoun. The Heb, text נִסְכּה is pointed in accordance with the k’ri נסכו which is also the Sam. reading.
10Lev 23:15. Some critics (Keil, Clark, and others) would render here and in 25:8 seven weeks, in accordance with the use of שַׁבָּת in the Talmud, and of σάββατον in the N. T. The word seems to be used here, however, rather by a figure of speech as in 25:2, 4, etc., and the definite meaning of week to be of later origin. The תְּמִימֹת on which Keil relies, agrees with the main idea.
11Lev 23:17. The Sam. here supplies the word חַלּוֹת which is uniformly translated cakes in the A. V., and may indicate the kind of bread used.
12Lev 23:18 אֵילִם indicates strong and full-grown rams of maturer age than the כְּבָשׂים of the first clause. The Sam. 3 MSS. and LXX. add “without blemish.”
13Lev 23:19. שְׂעִיר־עִזִּים. See Textual Note21 on 4:23.
14Lev 23:24. שַׁבָּתוֹן here stands by itself without the שַׁבָּת used in Lev 23:3. When thus used by itself Rosenmüller says “de iis tantum feriis dicitur, quæ non in septimum hebdomadis diem, qui שַׁבָּת, cessatio ab opere κατ’ ἐξοχὴν dicitur, incidit.” It should therefore be rendered by another term, and the one suggested by Clark is adopted.
15Lev 23:24. There is nothing in the Heb. corresponding to the words of trumpets, which should therefore be in italics. The Heb. reads simply זִכְרוֹן תְּרוּעָה = a memorial of a joyful noise. תְּרוּעָה is frequently used in connection with various kinds of trumpets and other instruments (Num. 31:6; Lev. 25:9; Ps. 150:5), denoting the clangor of those instruments, but it is also quite as frequently used without reference to an instrument of any kind (Num. 23:21; Job 8:21; 33:26; Ezra 3:11, 13, etc.). The silver trumpets of the temple were however blown on all the festivals, including the new moons (Num. 10:10), and there is no reason to question the tradition that on “the feast of trumpets” horns or cornets of some kind were blown generally throughout the land. The LXX. has μνημόσυνον σαλπίγγων, the Vulg. memoriale clangentibus tubis.
16Lev 23:27. אַךְ is a particle of limitation, and thus in this case of emphasis. It is better to omit the italicised words there shall be, and translate according to the usual construction of a Heb. clause ending with הוּא.
17Lev 23:32. The word בָּעֶרֶב = at even is omitted in one MS., LXX., and Vulg.
18Lev 23:32. The margin of the A. V. is more correct than the text. The Heb. is תִּשְׁבְּתוּ שַׁבַּתְּכֶם.
19Lev 23:36. עֲצֶרֶב is a word the signification of which has been much questioned. The translation of the LXX. ἐξόδίόν ἐστι, meaning the close of the festival, is defended by Fürst, and adopted by Patrick; so also Theodoret, referring not only to this feast, but to the whole cycle of feasts, τὸ τέλος τῶν ἑορτῶν, and so also Keil. Michaelis, using an Arabic etymology, interprets it of pressing out the grapes. The sense of the margin of the A. V. day of restraint is said to be advocated by Iken in a special dissertation (Con. Ikenii Dissertatt. Ludg. Batav. 1749) and is adopted by Abarbanel and other Jewish writers. The text of the A. V. assembly is defended by Rosenmüller (3d Ed.), advocated by Gesenius, and is that given by onkeios, the Vulg., and Syr. The LXX. also elsewhere translates the word πανήγυρις (Amos. 5:2) and σύνοδος (Jer. 9:2). The word occurs but ten times, in five of which it refers to the last day of one of the great feasts, and in one other (Jer. 9:2 ) it clearly means assembly. Josephus (Ant. iii. 10, 6) applies it as a customary phrase to the feast of Pentecost. It is the day referred to in Jno. 7:37 as “the last day, that great day of the feast.”
20Lev 23:39. בְּאָסְפְכֶם. It is better to preserve the indefiniteness of the original which does not determine whether the harvest was already fully gathered. Clark thinks that this could rarely have been the case.
21Lev 23:40. The Heb., as noted in the margin of the A. V., is fruit, and it is better to retain the word even if it be explained (Keil) of “the shoots and branches of the trees.” According to the most ancient traditions, however, it was customary at this feast to carry in one hand some fruit, and the word is retained in all the ancient versions.
22Lev 23:40. עֵץ הָדָר, lit. ornamental trees, a generic word including the various kinds specified just below. So the Sam., LXX., Syr., and Vulg., the lexicons, and most interpreters. Jewish tradition, however, incorporated into the Targums and Josephus (Ant. xiii. 13, 5) understands it specifically of the Citron.
23Lev 23:40. עֵץ־עָבֹת. The rendering of the A. V. is sustained by almost all authorities, meaning trees of various kinds having thick foliage. The Targums all interpret it specifically of myrtles, which cannot be right, as in the account of the celebration of this feast in Neh. 8:15 the myrtle and the thick trees are distinguished.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,