Leviticus 23:9
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
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(9) And the Lord spake unto Moses.—As the celebration of the sheaf of first-fruits formed no part of the original institution of the Passover (Exodus 12:1-20), and as the omer ritual could not be observed in the wilderness, where there was no sowing of corn, it is here enacted as a prospective part of the feast of unleavened bread, and hence is introduced by a separate formula.

23:4-14 The feast of the Passover was to continue seven days; not idle days, spent in sport, as many that are called Christians spend their holy-days. Offerings were made to the Lord at his altar; and the people were taught to employ their time in prayer, and praise, and godly meditation. The sheaf of first-fruits was typical of the Lord Jesus, who is risen from the dead as the First-fruits of them that slept. Our Lord Jesus rose from the dead on the very day that the first-fruits were offered. We are taught by this law to honour the Lord with our substance, and with the first-fruits of all our increase, Pr 3:9. They were not to eat of their new corn, till God's part was offered to him out of it; and we must always begin with God: begin every day with him, begin every meal with him, begin every affair and business with him; seek first the kingdom of God.These verses contain a distinct command regarding the religious services immediately connected with the grain harvest, given by anticipation against the time when the people were to possess the promised land.Le 23:9-14. The Sheaf of First Fruits. No text from Poole on this verse.

And the Lord spake unto Moses,.... At the same time, for what follow are the other feasts and holy convocations before spoken of:

saying; as follows.

And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
9–14. An offering of firstfruits (H)

Verses 9-14. - A second command is given on the subject of the Feast of Unleavened Bread respecting those ceremonies which were only to be made use of when the Israelites had reached Canaan. It has reference to the second day of Unleavened Bread, which is called the morrow after the sabbath, the first day of the feast being meant by the sabbath, on whatever day of week it may have occurred. It was on this second day that the presentation of the first or wave sheaf of barley took place, according to the command, Ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. Which command was fulfilled in the following manner. "Already, on the 14th of Nisan, the spot whence the first sheaf was to be reaped bad been marked out by delegates from the Sanhedrim, by tying together in bundles, while still standing, the barley that was to be cut down. Though for obvious reasons it was customary to choose for the purpose the sheltered Ashes valley across Kedron, there was no restriction on that point, provided the barley had grown in an ordinary field - of course in Palestine itself - and not in garden or orchard land, and that the soil had not been manured nor yet artificially watered. When the time for cutting the sheaf had arrived, that is, on the evening of the 15th of Nisan (even though it was a sabbath)just as the sun went down, three men, each with a sickle and basket, formally set to work. But in order clearly to bring out all that was distinctive in the ceremony, they first asked of the bystanders three times each of these questions: 'Has the sun gone down?' 'With this sickle?' 'Into this basket?' ' On this sabbath?' (or first Passover day); and lastly, 'Shall I reap?' Having been each time answered in the affirmative, they cut down barley to the amount of one ephah, or ten omers, or three seahs, which is equal to about three pecks and three pints of our English measure. The ears were brought into the court of the temple" (Edersheim, 'Temple Service'). The sheaf composed of these ears (for the Authorized Version is right in considering that it is the sheaf, and not the omer of flour made out of the ears of barley, that is meant by עֹמֶר, though Josephus and the Mishna take it the other way) was on the following day waved by the priests before the Lord, in token of its consecration, and through it, of the consecration of the whole barley crop to the Lord. With it was offered the burnt offering of a lamb, a meat offering double the usual quantity, and a drink offering. This passage and verses 18 and 37, are the only places in the Book of Leviticus where the drink offering is mentioned. Until the waving of the sheaf, neither bread nor parched corn, nor green ears, that is, no grain in any form, might be eaten. We may imagine how delicacies made of the new flour would at once appear in the streets as soon as the sheaf had been waved. Leviticus 23:9The leading directions for the Passover and feast of Mazzoth are repeated from Exodus 12:6, Exodus 12:11, Exodus 12:15-20. עבדה מלאכת, occupation of a work, signifies labour at some definite occupation, e.g., the building of the tabernacle, Exodus 35:24; Exodus 36:1, Exodus 36:3; hence occupation in connection with trade or one's social calling, such as agriculture, handicraft, and so forth; whilst מלאכה is the performance of any kind of work, e.g., kindling fire for cooking food (Exodus 35:2-3). On the Sabbath and the day of atonement every kind of civil work was prohibited, even to the kindling of fire for the purpose of cooking (Leviticus 23:3, Leviticus 23:30, Leviticus 23:31, cf. Exodus 20:10; Exodus 31:14; Exodus 35:2-3; Deuteronomy 5:14 and Leviticus 16:29; Numbers 29:7); on the other feast-days with a holy convocation, only servile work (Leviticus 23:7, Leviticus 23:8, Leviticus 23:21, Leviticus 23:25, Leviticus 23:35, Leviticus 23:36, cf. Exodus 12:16, and the explanation on Leviticus 12:1-8 :15ff., and Numbers 28:18, Numbers 28:25-26; Numbers 29:1, Numbers 29:12, Numbers 29:35). To this there is appended a fresh regulation in Leviticus 23:9-14, with the repetition of the introductory clause, "And the Lord spake," etc. When the Israelites had come into the land to be given them by the Lord, and had reaped the harvest, they were to bring a sheaf as first-fruits of their harvest to the priest, that he might wave it before Jehovah on the day after the Sabbath, i.e., after the first day of Mazzoth. According to Josephus and Philo, it was a sheaf of barley; but this is not expressly commanded, because it would be taken for granted in Canaan, where the harvest began with the barley. 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). The priest was to wave the sheaf before Jehovah, i.e., to present it symbolically to Jehovah by the ceremony of waving, without burning any of it upon the altar. The rabbinical rule, viz., to dry a portion of the ears by the fire, and then, after rubbing them out, to burn them on the altar, was an ordinance of the later scribes, who knew not the law, and was based upon Leviticus 2:14. For the law in Leviticus 2:14 refers to the offerings of first-fruits made by private persons, which are treated of in Numbers 18:12-13, and Deuteronomy 26:2. The sheaf of first-fruits, on the other hand, which was to be offered before Jehovah as a wave-offering in the name of the congregation, corresponded to the two wave-loaves which were leavened and then baked, and were to be presented to the Lord as first-fruits (Leviticus 23:17). As no portion of these wave-loaves was burned upon the altar, because nothing leavened was to be placed upon it (Leviticus 2:11), but they were assigned entirely to the priests, we have only to assume that the same application was intended by the law in the case of the sheaf of first-fruits, since the text only prescribes the waving, and does not contain a word about roasting, rubbing, or burning the grains upon the altar. השּׁבּת מחרת (the morrow after the Sabbath) signifies the next day after the first day of the feast of Mazzoth, i.e., the 16th Abib (Nisan), not the day of the Sabbath which fell in the seven days' feast of Mazzoth, as the Baethoseans supposed, still less the 22nd of Nisan, or the day after the conclusion of the seven days' feast, which always closed with a Sabbath, as Hitzig imagines.

(Note: The view advocated by the Baethoseans, which has been lately supported by W. Schultz, is refuted not only by Joshua 5:11, but by the definite article used, השּׁבּת, which points back to one of the feast-days already mentioned, and still more decisively by the circumstance, that according to Leviticus 23:15 the seven weeks, at the close of which the feast of Pentecost was to be kept, were to be reckoned from this Sabbath; and if the Sabbath was not fixed, but might fall upon any day of the seven days' feast of Mazzoth, and therefore as much as give 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 (cf. Ranke, Pentateuch ii. 108). Hitzig's hypothesis has been revived by Hupfeld and Knobel, without any notice of the conclusive refutation given to it by Bהhr and Wieseler; only Knobel makes "the Sabbath" not the concluding but the opening Sabbath of the feast of Passover, on the ground that "otherwise the festal sheaf would not have been offered till the 22nd of the month, and therefore would have come post festum." But this hypothesis, which renders it necessary that the commencement of the ecclesiastical year should always be assigned to a Saturday (Sabbath), in order to gain weekly Sabbaths for the 14th and 21st of the month, as the opening and close of the feast of Passover, gives such a form to the Jewish year as would involve its invariably closing with a broken week; a hypothesis which is not only incapable of demonstration, but, from the holiness attached to the Jewish division of weeks, is a priori improbable, and in fact inconceivable. The Mosaic law, which gave such sanctity to the division of time into weeks, as founded upon the history of creation, by the institution of the observance of the Sabbath, that it raised the Sabbath into the groundwork of a magnificent festal cycle, could not possibly have made such an arrangement with regard to the time for the observance of the Passover, as would involve almost invariably the mutilation of the last week of the year, and an interruption of the old and sacred weekly cycle with the Sabbath festival at its close. The arguments by which so forced a hypothesis is defended, must be very conclusive indeed, to meet with any acceptance. But neither Hitzig nor his followers have been able to adduce any such arguments as these. Besides the word "Sabbath" and Joshua 5:11, which prove nothing at all, the only other argument adduced by Knobel is, that "it is impossible to see why precisely the second day of the azyma, when the people went about their ordinary duties, and there was no meeting at the sanctuary, should have been distinguished by the sacrificial gift which was the peculiar characteristic of the feast," - an argument based upon the fallacious principle, that anything for which I can see no reason, cannot possibly have occurred.)

The "Sabbath" does not mean the seventh day of the week, but the day of rest, although the weekly Sabbath was always the seventh or last day of the week; hence not only the seventh day of the week (Exodus 31:15, etc.), but the day of atonement (the tenth of the seventh month), is called "Sabbath," and "Shabbath shabbathon" (Leviticus 23:32; Leviticus 16:31). As a day of rest, on which no laborious work was to be performed (Leviticus 23:8), the first day of the feast of Mazzoth is called "Sabbath," irrespectively of the day of the week upon which it fell; and "the morrow after the Sabbath" is equivalent to "the morrow after the Passover" mentioned in Joshua 5:11, where "Passover" signifies the day at the beginning of which the paschal meal was held, i.e., the first day of unleavened bread, which commenced on the evening of the 14th, in other words, the 15th Abib. 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. They were not to eat any bread or roasted grains of the new corn till they had presented the offering of their God (Leviticus 23:14). This offering was fixed for the second day of the feast of the Passover, that the connection between the harvest and the Passover might be kept in subordination to the leading idea of the Passover itself (see at Exodus 12:15.). But as the sheaf was not burned upon the altar, but only presented symbolically to the Lord by waving, and then handed over to the priests, an altar-gift had to be connected with it, - namely, a yearling sheep as a burnt-offering, a meat-offering of two-tenths of an ephah of fine flour mixed with oil, and a drink-offering of a quarter of a hin of wine, - to give expression to the obligation and willingness of the congregation not only to enjoy their earthly food, but to strengthen all the members of their body for growth in holiness and diligence in good works. The burnt-offering, for which a yearling lamb was prescribed, as in fact for all the regular festal sacrifices, was of course in addition to the burnt-offerings prescribed in Numbers 28:19-20, for every feast-day. The meat-offering, however, was not to consist of one-tenth of an ephah of fine flour, as on other occasions (Exodus 29:40; Numbers 28:9, Numbers 28:13, etc.), but of two-tenths, that the offering of corn at the harvest-feast might be a more plentiful one than usual.

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