And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
HOLY DAYS AND SEASONS: WEEKLY, MONTHLY, ANNUAL,
SEPTENNIAL, AND EVERY HALF-CENTURY.
CHAPTER 23. THIS Part consists of chapters 23, and 25, with chapter 24 parenthetically introduced. Every religion must have its round of holy days and seasons:
1. To give occasion for manifesting joyous thankfulness to the Giver of all good things.
2. To keep alive the memory of past events around which religious associations cling.
3. To impress upon the hearts of the worshippers those sacred mysteries which are regarded as essential characteristics of the system.
1. The duty and happiness of rejoicing before the Lord find a prominent place under the Mosaic dispensation, as they must in any religion where man feels himself in a covenant relation with God, brought nigh to him by himself, and no longer estranged from him who is his only true life and happiness. Accordingly, the first thought of the annual Jewish festivals is that of joyous thankfulness, such as is becoming to reconciled children grateful to their Father for the many bounties that they receive at his hands. The first gift of God of which man becomes conscious is that of the daily sustenance provided for him, and therefore we should expect holy days to be appointed to commemorate the goodness of God in bestowing the gifts of the earth. The first aspect, therefore, in which to regard the three great annual festivals - the Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles - is that they were days of thanksgiving for the fruits of the earth dispensed by God to man. First, with regard to the Passover. We read at verses 10, 11, "When ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf [or an omer] 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." The words, "the morrow after the sabbath," mean, as we shall see, the day after the first day of Unleavened Bread, that is, the second day of the feast, Nisan 16, which fell early in April, when the first barley was ripening in Palestine. On the 14th day of Nisan (the day of the Paschal sacrifice) a certain quantity of standing barley was marked off, by men specially appointed for the purpose, in a field ploughed the previous autumn and sown at least ten weeks before the Passover, but not prepared artificially in such a way as to hasten the crop. On the following day, Nisan 15, at sunset, three men were sent to the selected field, and, in the presence of witnesses, cut the ears of corn before marked, and brought them into the temple. On the next day, Nisan 16, this corn, whether in the form of a sheaf or of flour, was offered to the Lord by being waved before him, and then consigned to the priest. Here, by the presentation of the firstfruits of the year, an acknowledgment is made that the products of the earth are by right God's. This is one of the objects of the Feast of the Passover. Secondly, as to Pentecost. After the sheaf, or omer, had been offered on Nisan 16, it was allowable to make the new year's barley into bread, but the dedication of the grain crops was not complete until a portion of the wheat crop had also been offered. This was done a week of weeks later, at the Feast of Pentecost, forty-nine days after the presentation of the barley, and fifty days after the first day of Unleavened Bread. On this day, two leavened loaves, of the same size as the shewbread loaves, were waved before the Lord, and then delivered to the priest. These loaves were made out of ears of corn selected and reaped as the barley had been seven weeks before, and then threshed and ground in the temple. They were regarded as the firstfruits of the wheat harvest, though they were not made of the first cut wheat; and from their presentation the festival has the name of the Feast of Harvest (Exodus 23:16); the Feast of the Firstfruits of the Wheat Harvest (Exodus 24:22); the Day of the Firstfruits (Numbers 28:26); while, from its date relatively to the Passover, it is called the Feast of Weeks (Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10). The name, Feast of Pentecost, is found only in the Apocrypha (Tobit 2:1; 2 Macc. 12:32), and in the New Testament (Acts 2:1; Acts 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8). The meat offerings might not be made of the new year's flour until these two loaves had been offered. Thirdly, with regard to the Feast of Tabernacles. The festivals connected with the seasons of the year and the products of the soil were not ended until the Feast of Ingathering (Exodus 23:16; Exodus 34:22), or Tabernacles (verse 34; Deuteronomy 16:13; Ezra 3:4; Zechariah 14:16; Jeremiah 7:2), had been celebrated. This festival occurred about the beginning of October, and commemorated the final gathering in of all the fruits of the year, specially of the olives and the grapes. It was observed by a general dwelling in booths made of the branches of palms, willows, olives, pines, myrtles, and other close-growing trees (verse 40; Nehemiah 8:15), in which all the Israelite males, with the exception of the sick, lived for seven days, and kept harvest home.
2. The second aspect in which to regard the annum festivals is the historical one. The Passover is characterized by its historical associations to a greater degree than either of the other festivals. The whole national life of the Israelites received its character from the Egyptian Exodus, and accordingly the anniversaries of their religious year began with its commemoration. It was the events which had taken place in Egypt which gave to the Paschal sacrifice and the Paschal feast their primary signification; and while to us the Passover festival serves as a proof of the truth of those events, to the Jew it served as a memorial of them, preventing them from ever being forgotten or disregarded (cf. Exodus 13:3-16). The ancient Christian Fathers suggested that the Feast of Pentecost commemorated the institution of the old dispensation at Sinai, as, to Christians, it recalled the institution of the new Law by the gift of the fiery tongues at Jerusalem. This suggestion was adopted by Maimonides and the later school of Hebrew commentators, and it is a very probable conjecture; but as no appearance of it is found in the Old or New Testaments, nor even in early Hebrew writers, it cannot be regarded as a certainty. Historically, the Feast of Tabernacles is generally considered to commemorate the dwelling in tents throughout the forty years' wandering in the wilderness; but if this were so, it would have been called the Feast of Tents, for the words "tent" and "tabernacle" differ, and the Israelites did not dwell in tabernacles in the wilderness. Rather, it commemorates the first encampment of the Israelites after setting forth from Egypt, which took place at "Succoth," the meaning of which word is "tabernacle" (Exodus 12:37). Thus, as the event historically associated with the first harvest festival, the Passover, was the setting forth from Egypt, that associated with the last, the Feast of Tabernacles, was the resting at the end of the first day's journey at Succoth, where the people now felt that they were free, and began to rejoice in their freedom.
3. The typical character of the feasts, as well as their historical character, is more apparent in the Passover than in the other two feasts. St. Paul's testimony on this point is sufficient: "For even Christ our Passover is sacrificed for us: therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth" (1 Corinthians 5:7). Here we have the typical character of the Paschal lamb, and of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, authoritatively declared to us. The blood of the lamb slain on the night before the Exodus, being the means whereby the Israelites were delivered from the destruction which fell on all the rest of the inhabitants of the land, typified the still more efficacious bloodshedding by which the redemption of Christ's people was wrought. The Feast of Pentecost, if it commemorated the gift of the Law at Mount Sinai, pointed thereby to the giving of the better Law on the day when the Holy Ghost descended upon the apostles in Jerusalem; and in any case, as a Feast of Firstfruits, it was emblematic of those firstfruits of the Christian Church presented to God on that day (Acts 2:41). The Feast of Tabernacles, in which God's people commemorated their rejoicing in their newly found liberty after the slavery of Egypt, awaits its full typical fulfillment in the spiritual joy of the redeemed after they have been delivered from the burden of the flesh and the sufferings of the world; but its typical meaning is partially fulfilled in the blessed peace and joy spread abroad in the hearts of the children of God by reason of their adoption in Christ, whereby we have obtained an inheritance with the saints (Ephesians 1:11, 18). In the annual fast held on the 10th of Tisri, the great Day of Atonement, the typical element outweighs any other. The present and the past sink away in comparison with the future. The day suggests no thought of the seasons or of the products of the earth, and it recalls no event of past history. It teaches a lesson - the need of reconciliation; and by the entrance of the high priest into the holy of holies with sacrificial blood, and by the ceremony of the scapegoat, it typically foreshadows how that reconciliation is to he effected. The monthly festivals had a purpose different from the annual. They occurred on the new moon, or the first day of each month, and their intention was to dedicate each month to God. Only one of these monthly festivals is mentioned in this chapter the Feast of Trumpets. It is the feast of the new moon of the sacred seventh month, with which the civil year began. Because it was New Year's Day, it had more ceremonies attached to it than the first days of the other months. Whereas the feasts of the new moons in other months only sanctified the special month which they began, the Feast of Trumpets sanctified also the whole year, and was therefore an annual as well as a monthly feast. The weekly festival was the sabbath (see Exodus 20:10; Deuteronomy 5:15). This feast sanctified each week, as the monthly feasts sanctified each month; and like the annual festivals, it looked both backwards and forwards: backwards, to the sanctification bestowed upon it "Because that in it he had rested from all his work which God created and made" (Genesis 2:3); forwards, to the great sabbath in which Christ rested in the grave, and yet further onwards to another sabbath still to be enjoyed by the people of God. The sabbatical year and the jubilee were extensions of the sabbatical principle - certain civil and religious institutions and regulations being attached to each of them.
Speak 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.
Verse 2. - Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. The translation should rather be, The appointed times which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, these are my appointed times. The appointed times (mo'adin) include the great fast as well as the festivals, and the weekly and monthly as well as the annual holy days. The primary purpose with which the following enumeration of holy days is introduced, is to give a list of the holy convocations. While the Israelites were still dwelling in the wilderness, a holy convocation appears to have been a religious assembly of all the males in the court of the tabernacle. After the settlement in Canaan, a religious gathering for prayer or festive rejoicing in all their dwellings, that is, wherever they lived, would have satisfied the command to hold a holy convocation, except on the three great festivals, when all who could, "kept the feast" at Jerusalem. There were in all seven holy convocations in the year, besides the sabbath, namely, the first and last days of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Pentecost, the Day of Atonement, the Feast of Trumpets, the first and last days of the Feast of Tabernacles.
Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.
Verse 3. - The seventh day is the sabbath of rest. This is a very strong expression, literally, the sabbath of sabbatism, which doubles the force of the single word. Ye shall do no work therein. The sabbath and the Day of Atonement were the only days in which no work might be done, whereas on the other festivals it was only no servile work that might be done. It is not to be observed solely where the tabernacle is pitched or the temple is built, but in every town and village of Canaan - in all your dwellings. In the sanctuary itself the peculiar characteristics of the sabbath were a holy convocation, the renewal of the shewbread, and the burnt offering of two lambs with their meat and drink offerings (Numbers 28:9, 10); elsewhere it was observed only by the holy convocation and rest from all labour. It commenced at sunset on Friday evening, and continued till sunset on Saturday evening. In later days the hour at which it began was announced by three blasts of the priests' trumpets, immediately after which a new course of priests entered on their ministry.
These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.
Verse 4. - This verse repeats the statement or heading contained in verse 2, with reference to the annual holy day, the sabbath having been disposed of in verse 3.
In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD'S passover.
Verse 5. - In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the Lord's passover. The month of Nisan was made the first month of the religious year in consequence of the original Passover having taken place in it (Exodus 12:2). On the occasion of the first, or Egyptian, Passover, all heads of a family, either singly or two or three heads of families in conjunction, provided themselves with a lamb or a kid on the 10th day of Nisan, killed it in the evening of the 14th, and, taking a bunch of hyssop, dipped it in the blood and struck the lintel and two side posts of the doors of their houses with the blood. They then roasted the animal whole for eating, added to it unleavened bread, and garnished it with bitter herbs. They made themselves ready to eat it by dressing themselves for a journey, "with their loins girded, their shoes on their feet, and their staff in their hands" (Exodus 12:11), and thus they ate it in haste, in a standing position. The meaning of the ceremony is explained by what was taking place at the same time. On the same night, after the blood had been sprinkled upon the lintel and side posts, God slew the firstborn of all who had not exhibited this symbol of their having been brought into covenant with himself, and the Israelites set off hurriedly on their departure from Egypt. It was commanded that the day should be kept hereafter in like manner as a memorial, and that the following seven days should be kept as a Feast of Unleavened Bread (Exodus 12:14, 15). This command is here concisely repeated, as it is again repeated in Deuteronomy 16:1-8. One very considerable change was, however, necessarily made in the method of its observance. Originally, each head of a household or combination of households sacrificed the lamb himself, and sprinkled the blood upon the doorposts and lintel. But after the establishment of the Aaronic priesthood and the withdrawal of the priestly authority previously vested in each head of a house (chapters 8, 9), and after the stringent prohibition of sacrificing elsewhere than in the court of the tabernacle had been issued (chapter 17), this could not continue. Accordingly, we find in the Book of Deuteronomy the direct injunction, "Thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee: but at the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his Name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt" (Deuteronomy 16:5, 6). A result from this rule was that every male Israelite had to present himself at Jerusalem, and there slay his lamb on the day of the Passover, which in the time of Nero, brought between two and three million pilgrims to Jerusalem each year. The crowd of pilgrims took their way to the temple, and were admitted into the court in three divisions. There they slew each man his lamb, while the priests offered the blood on the altar, and the Levites sang the Hallel (Psalm 113-118). Then they bore away the lambs, roasted them whole on a spit of pomegranate wood, taking care that no bone should be broken, and prepared the Paschal supper. At the supper, as well as at the sacrifice, a change of manner was introduced. "As the guests gathered round the Paschal table, they came no longer, as at the first celebration, with their loins girded, with shoes on their feet, and a staff in their hands; that is, as travelers waiting to take their departure. On the contrary, they were arrayed in their best festive garments, joyous and at rest, as became the children of a king. To express this idea, the rabbis also insisted that the Paschal supper, or at least part of it, must be eaten in that recumbent position with which we are familiar from the New Testament. 'For,' say they, 'they use this leaning posture, as free men do, in memorial of their freedom.' And again, 'Because it is the manner of slaves to eat standing, therefore now they eat sitting and leaning, in order to show that they have been delivered from bondage into freedom.' And finally, 'No, not the poorest in Israel may eat till he has sat down, leaning.' But though it was deemed desirable to sit leaning during the whole Paschal supper, it was only absolutely enjoined while partaking of the bread and the wine" (Edersheim, 'Temple Service'). The essentials of the Paschal feast were the Paschal lamb, the unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs (Exodus 12:8). To these were afterwards added a dish formed from an animal sacrificed on the Passover day, a composition of dates and other dried fruits, and four cups of red wine mixed with water, the last of which came to be regarded as essential as that which had been commanded in the Law. The Rabbi Gamaliel is reported by the Mishna to have said, "Whoever fails to explain three things in the Passover fails to fulfill his duty. These are the Paschal lamb, the unleavened bread, and the bitter herbs. The Paschal lamb means that God passed over the houses of our fathers in Egypt, which were sprinkled with blood; the unleavened bread, that our fathers were hurried out of Egypt; the bitter herbs, that the Egyptians made the lives of our fathers in Egypt bitter" (Pes. 10:15). The wine was regarded so necessary an adjunct, that it is ordered that every householder must provide himself with four cups, even if he had to sell or pawn his coat, or hire himself out for a servant, or receive money from the poor's box, in order to do so (Pes. 1). The supper began with drinking the first cup of wine, before which a grace, or thanksgiving, of the following character was said: - "Blessed art thou, Jehovah our God, who hast created the fruit of the vine! Blessed art thou, Jehovah our God, King of the universe, who hast chosen us from among all people, and exalted us from among all languages, and sanctified us with thy commandments! And thou hast given us, in love, the solemn days for joy, and the festivals and appointed seasons for gladness, and this, the day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the season of our freedom, a holy convocation, the memorial of our departure from Egypt. For us hast thou chosen; and us hast thou sanctified from among all nations, and thy holy festivals with joy and with gladness hast thou caused us to inherit. Blessed art thou, O Lord, who sanctifiest Israel and the appointed seasons! Blessed art thou, Lord, King of the universe, who hast preserved us alive, and sustained us, and brought us to this season" (Edersheim, 'Temple Service'). After drinking the first cup, there followed a general washing of hands, after which the company ate some of the bitter herbs. Then the second cup was filled, and in order to carry out the injunction of Exodus 12:26, 27, the youngest member of the company inquired, "What mean ye by this service?" And the president of the feast replied, "It is the sacrifice of the Lord's Passover, who passed over the houses of the children of Israel in Egypt, when he smote the Egyptians, and delivered our houses." At the same time, he explained the purport of the unleavened bread and the bitter herbs, and called upon the company to give thanks for what God had wrought for them and for their fathers, ending with Psalm 113, 114, sung by all present. The second cup was then drunk, and after second washing of hands, the unleavened bread was broken, and thanks again given, after which the pieces of bread, the bitter herbs, the other sacrificial dish (if any), and the Paschal lamb were partaken of in turn. The third cup was then filled, thanks were again given, and the cup was drunk. This cup had the name of the "cup of blessing," owing to the blessing said over it, and it was succeeded after an interval by the fourth cup, when Psalm 115-118 (which, with Psalm 113, 114, made up the Hallel) were sung, followed by a prayer of thanksgiving.
And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.
Verse 6. - The Feast of Unleavened Bread was instituted at the same time with the Feast of the Passover (Exodus 12:15-17), and from the beginning the two festivals were practically but one festival, never separated, though separable in idea. The Passover, strictly so called, lasted but one day, Nisan 14; the Feast of Unleavened Bread lasted seven days, Nisan 15-21. The whole made a festival of eight days, called indifferently the Feast of the Passover, or the Feast of Unleavened Bread. The bread to be eaten throughout the festival was unleavened, in order to remind the Israelites of the historical fact that on account of the urgency of the Egyptians, "the people took their dough before it was leavened, their kneading troughs being bound up in their clothes upon their shoulders" (Exodus 12:34), and quitted the land of their affliction in haste. Accordingly, in the Book of Deuteronomy it is appointed, "Seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou earnest forth out of the laud of Egypt all the days of thy life" (Deuteronomy 16:3).
In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
Verses 7, 8. - The first and the last day were to be days of holy convocation, on which no servile work might be done. It was on the first day, Nisan 15, that our Lord was crucified. The Pharisees found nothing in the holiness of the day to prevent their taking virtual part in his seizure and condemnation and death; but we are told by St. John that "they themselves went not into the judgment hall, lest they should be defiled, but that they might eat the Passover" (John 18:28). What is meant in this passage by "the Passover" is not the Paschal lamb which had already been consumed, but probably the peace offering, or chagigah, which had to be offered and eaten on the first day of Unleavened Bread. The public sacrifices on each of the seven days of the week were two young bullocks, one ram, and seven Iambs for a burnt offering, with the accompanying meat offerings, and one goat for a sin offering (Numbers 28:19-24). And these were followed by peace offerings made at the discretion of individuals, "according to the blessing of the Lord which he had given them" (Deuteronomy 16:17).
But 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.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
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.
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:
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.
And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.
And the meat offering 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 the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.
And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, 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.
And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
Verses 15-21. - The Feast of Pentecost lasted but one day. From the morrow after the sabbath - that is, from the second day of Unleavened Bread - the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths, i.e., weeks, were to be counted, making forty-nine days, and on the day following the completion of the seventh sabbath (meaning here the seventh week), the festival was to be held, whence its later name of Pentecost, or Fiftieth-day Feast. It would have fallen about the beginning of June - a season of the year which would have made the journey to Jerusalem easy. The characteristic offering of the day was that of two wave loaves of two tenth deals... of fine flour... baken with leaven. These loaves were regarded as the firstfruits unto the Lord of the wheat harvest, although the greater part of the crop had now been reaped and housed. They were to be leavened and brought out of your habitations; that is, they were to consist of such bread as was ordinarily used in daily life. They were made out of ears of wheat selected and cut like the barley in the Feast of Unleavened Bread, and then threshed and ground in the temple court. Each loaf contained an omer of flour, amounting to about five pints, and would therefore have weighed about five pounds. With these were offered two lambs, which were waved before the Lord by being led backwards and forwards before the tabernacle or the temple, and then the loaves were waved also, but they were not placed upon the altar, as they were leavened. The twentieth verse, which is somewhat obscure in the Authorized Version, should be punctuated as follows. And the priest shall wave them (the two lambs) with the bread of the firstfruits (the two loaves) for a wave offering before the Lord; with the two lambs they (the loaves) shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. The other sacrifices to be offered on this day are described in the text as seven lambs,... one young bullock, and two rams... for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings,... and one kid of the goats for a sin offering. In the Book of Numbers (Numbers 28:27) they are stated to be "seven lambs," "two young bullocks," "one ram," with meat and drink offerings, and "one kid of the goats." Seeing that in Leviticus one young bullock and two rams are commanded, and in Numbers "two young bullocks and one ram," it is reasonable to suppose that a copyist's error has found its way into one or the other text. The feast was to be kept as a day of holy convocation, and no servile work was to be done upon it. The number of sacrifices offered by individuals who had come to Jerusalem caused the festivity to be in practice continued for several days subsequent to the festival itself.
Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.
Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.
And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the LORD.
Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.
And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.
And 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.
And 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.
Verse 22. - When ye reap the harvest of your land. The legislator pauses in his enunciation of the festivals to add the rule of charity, already laid down in the nineteenth chapter, as to leaving the gleanings unto the poor, and to the stranger.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Verses 23-25 - In the seventh month, in the first day of the month. Only one of the monthly festivals is named in this chapter, because it is the only one on which a holy convocation was to be held. The first day of the seventh month we should expect to be holier than the first day of any other month, on account of the peculiar holiness of the seventh month, and because it was the beginning of the civil year. It is to be a sabbath; that is, a festival observed by rest, and a memorial of blowing of trumpets. The latter words should be rather rendered a memorial of a joyful noise. That these joyful sounds were made by blowing the cornet, we may well believe from the testimony of tradition, but the text of Holy Scripture does not state the fact, and the use of the word trumpets in place of "cornets" leads to a confusion. Every new moon, and among them that of the seventh month, was observed by the blowing of trumpets (Numbers 10:10), but the trumpets then blown differed in their use and shape from the cornet. The trumpet was a long-shaped, metal instrument, at first used to give the signal for marching, afterwards to serve as the sign of the arrival of the monthly festival; the cornet was an animal's horn, or, if not a real horn, an instrument formed in the shape of a horn, and it was used to express joyful emotions, answering somewhat to our modern bell-ringing in the West, or firing unloaded guns in the East. Besides the blowing of trumpets, special sacrifices were appointed for the first of each month, "two young bullocks, and one ram, seven lambs," with their meat and drink offerings, for a burnt offering, and "one kid of the goats" for a sin offering (Numbers 28:11-15). On New Year's Day, which, from its difference from the other new moons, was an annual as well as a monthly feast, the special offerings were "one young bullock, one ram, and seven lambs," with their meat and drink offerings for a burnt offering, and "one kid of the goats" for a sin offering; and these were to be in addition to the offerings made on the first day of each month (Numbers 29:2-6). It became a custom for the Levites to chant at the morning sacrifice Psalm 81, and at the evening sacrifice Psalm 29. The great joyfulness of the day is shown by the account given of its observance in the Book of Nehemiah. It was on the first day of the seventh month that Ezra read the Book of the Law publicly to the people, and when "the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law," Nehemiah and Ezra and the Levites said, "This day is holy unto the Lord your God; mourn not, nor weep.... Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the Lord is your strength. So the Levites stilled all the people, saying, Hold your peace, for the day is holy; neither be ye grieved. And all the people went their way to eat, and to drink, and to send portions, and to make great mirth, because they had understood the words that were declared unto them" (Nehemiah 8:9-12).
Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.
Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Verses 26-32. - The ceremonies to be observed on the day of atonement have been already described in chapter 16, where it found its place as the great purification of the people and of the sanctuary. Here it is reintroduced as one of the holy days. It is the one Jewish fast; to be observed as a day of holy convocation, a day in which to afflict your souls and to offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord, and in which no manner of work was to be done; inasmuch as, like the weekly sabbath, it was a sabbath of rest from the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even. The time of year at which it was appointed shows that one purpose of its institution was to make solemn preparation for the joyous festival of Tabernacles, which was to follow in five days' time, when the people ought to be in a state of reconciliation with God.
Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be 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.
And 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.
For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.
And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.
Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.
It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Verses 33-36. - The third of the great festivals, the Feast of Tabernacles - beginning on the 15th of Tisri, as the Feast of Unleavened Bread began on the 15th of Nisan - lasted seven days, and was followed by an octave; on two days, the first day and its octave, there is to be an holy convocation, and on these no servile work is to be done. The eighth day is also a solemn assembly. The meaning of the word atzereth, translated a solemn assembly, is doubtful. It occurs ten times in the Hebrew Scriptures, and appears to signify
(1) the last day of a feast (see John 7:37, where mention is made of "the last day, that great day of the feast");
(2) a solemn assembly held on the last day of a feast; whence it comes to mean
(3) a solemn assembly. The Jews gave the name to the Feast of Pentecost, as being the close of the Feast of Unleavened Bread. On each of the seven days of the Feast of Tabernacles was to be offered an offering made by fire unto the Lord. The sacrifices to be offered are enumerated in Numbers 29:12-38. There were to be sacrificed two rams, and fourteen iambs, and bullocks diminishing by one a day from thirteen on the first day to seven on the last. These formed the burnt sacrifices. The sin offering on each day was one kid of the goats. On the eighth day the burnt offering consisted of one bullock, one ram, seven lambs, and the sin offering, as before, of one kid of the goats. Thus there were offered in all, in the eight days, seventy-one bullocks, fifteen rams, one hundred and five lambs, and eight kids, beside meat and drink offerings.
Speak 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.
On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.
Seven 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; and ye shall do no servile work therein.
These are the feasts 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, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:
Verses 37, 38. - These verses form the conclusion of the immediate subject. The feasts have been enumerated in which holy convocations are to be held and public sacrifices offered; these sacrifices, it is explained, not including those of the sabbath or of individual offerers.
Beside 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.
Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered 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.
Verses 39-44. - A further instruction respecting the Feast of Tabernacles is appended. When ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, not necessarily at the completion of the ingathering, but at the time at which the festival is held, ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees. The word in the Hebrew, in its literal acceptation, means fruits of goodly trees, and hence in later times a misunderstanding arose (see 2 Macc. 10:6, 7), which led to the graceful practice of carrying in the left hand citrons (the fruit of goodly trees), and in the right hand myrtles, palms, and willows. It appears, however, that the word signifies in this place rather products than fruits, namely, leaves and branches. The command, therefore, would be, ye shall take you... products of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brooks. Originally, the purpose of these boughs was to make booths, as is shown by Nehemiah 8:15, 16, "Go forth unto the mount, and fetch olive branches, and pine branches, and myrtle branches, and palm branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written. So the people went forth, and brought them, and made themselves booths." And ye shall rejoice before the Lord your God seven days. Accordingly we find when the feast was observed by Ezra, after the long interval from the days of Joshua, "there was very great gladness" (Nehemiah 8:17). The reason of the injunction to dwell in booths is that 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; that is, on the first night after they had been delivered from Egypt, and encamped at Succoth (Exodus 12:37).
And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and 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.
Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:
That 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.
And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.