Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, When you be come into the land which I give to you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)When ye be come into the land.—This is the third of the four instances in Leviticus where a law is given prospectively, having no immediate bearing on the condition of the people of Israel. (See Leviticus 19:23.)
Then ye shall bring a sheaf of the first-fruits of your harvest.—Better, ye shall bring the first-fruit omer of your harvest. The omer had to be from the best and ripest standing corn of a field near Jerusalem. The measure of an omer was of the meal obtained from the barley offering. Hence three seahs = one ephah, or ten omers, were at first gathered in the following manner :—“Delegates from the Sanhedrim went into the field nearest to Jerusalem a day before the festival, and tied together the ears in bundles whilst still fastened to the ground.”Leviticus 23:10. When ye come into the land, &c. — In the wilderness they sowed no corn, and therefore could not be obliged by this precept till they came into Canaan. And shall reap the harvest — Begin to reap, as the sense shows, and is explained Deuteronomy 16:9. Then ye shall bring a sheaf — Or handful, as the margin has it; but in the Hebrew it is omer.
And they did not offer this corn in the ear, or by a sheaf, or handful, but, as Josephus affirms, and may be gathered from Leviticus 2:14-16, purged from the chaff, dried, and beaten out.Deuteronomy 24:19; Ruth 2:7, or a measure Exodus 16:16. Our version is probably right in this place. The offering which was waved Leviticus 7:30 was most likely a small sheaf of barley, the grain which is first ripe. The first fruits of the wheat harvest were offered seven weeks later in the loaves of Pentecost. See Leviticus 23:15-17. The two offerings thus figure the very commencement and the completion of the grain harvest; compare Ruth 1:22; Ruth 2:23.When ye be come into the land; therefore this obliged them not in the desert, where they reaped no harvest, &c.
Shall reap, i.e. begin to reap, as it is expounded Deu 16:9. So, he begat, i.e. began to beget, Genesis 5:32 11:26; and, he built, 1 Kings 6:1, i.e. he began to build, as it is explained 2 Chronicles 3:2. The harvest thereof, to wit, barley harvest, which was before wheat harvest. See Exodus 9:31,32 34:22 Ruth 2:23.
A sheaf Heb. an omer, which is the tenth part of an ephah. It seems here to note the measure of corn which was to be offered. For it is to be considered that they did not offer this corn in the ear, or by a sheaf or handful, but as Josephus, iii. 10, affirms, and may be gathered from Leviticus 2:14-16, purged from the chaff, and dried, and beaten out, and, some add, ground into meal, and sifted into fine flour; though this may be doubted of, because the meat-offering attending upon this was of fine flour, Leviticus 23:13, and because this offering is said to be of green ears of corn dried, &c., Leviticus 2:14.
when ye be come into the land which I give unto you: the land of Canaan, which God had given by promise to their fathers and to them, and which they were now going to inherit: as yet they were in a wilderness, where there were no sowing nor reaping, nor any harvest; so that the following law, though now given, could not take place till they came into the land of Canaan:
and shall reap the harvest thereof; the barley harvest, which was about this time, the month Nisan, and which had the name Abib, from the barley being then in the ear, see Exodus 9:31; for the wheat harvest was not till seven weeks after:
then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest; to with it as after directed: this is called an omer in the text, which was the tenth part of an ephah, Exodus 16:36; and so Jarchi interprets it here; according to the Jewish writers, when the sheaf was reaped, the corn was beat out and winnowed, and dried by the fire, and then ground in a mill, and an omer, or a tenth part of an ephah of the flour of it was taken, and oil and frankincense put upon it, an handful of which being put upon the altar, the rest was the priest's; and with this pretty much agrees the account Josephus gives, who says, on the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth (day of Nisan), of the fruits they have reaped they take a part; for they do not touch them before, accounting it just to honour God first, from whom they receive the plenty of these things; and bring the firstfruits of the barley after this manner, having dried the handful of ears, and bruised them, and cleansed them from the bran, they bring to the altar a tenth part to God, and casting one handful of it on the altar, they leave the rest for the use of the priests; and from thence forward it is lawful to reap publicly and privately (k): this has been in some part imitated by the Heathens: the Egyptians, who ascribe the invention of the fruits of the earth, particularly wheat and barley, to Isis and Osiris, in memory of it, and as a testimony of their gratitude for it, at the time of harvest, bring an handful of the first ears of corn, and beating themselves near them, call upon Isis; and in some cities, at the feast of Isis, vessels of wheat and barley were carried about in great pomp, as Diodorus Siculus (l) relates.Speak 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 sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Leviticus 23:4 contains the special heading for the yearly feasts. בּמועדם at their appointed time.
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