The Feast of Harvest
Leviticus 23:15-22
And you shall count to you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering…

This was the second of the three great festivals upon which all the males of Israel were required to assemble at Jerusalem (see Exodus 23:14-17; Deuteronomy 16:16). Let us consider -


1. They were to meet in holy convocation.

(1) This was intended to keep alive their interest in the service of God. Were sabbaths and public services of religion to cease, men would soon forget God.

(2) All Israel looked each other in the face. Religion is eminently social. And as these convocations were types of heavenly things, this suggested the recognitions and greetings of the future (see Hebrews 12:22, 23).

(3) On this day servile work was to cease. The teaching here is that when we congregate in heaven we shall be emancipated front the curse of toil (comp. Genesis 3:17; Revelation 22:3).

2. They were to present two wave loaves.

(1) These were composed of two tenth-deals of fine flour. They were to sanctify the wheat-harvest as the sheaf of the firstfruits sanctified the barley harvest. Hence these also are called "firstfruits" (verses 17, 20; Exodus 34:22).

(2) They were to be baken with leaven. As the unleavened bread of the Passover was a memorial of the haste with which they departed from Egypt, this was to express thankfulness to God for the blessings of ordinary food, together with their rest in Canaan.

(3) One loaf was to be eaten by the worshipper, while the other was God's. That more completely given to God was divided. One portion was burnt on the altar, while the priests took the remainder (Numbers 18:9-11). This explains the injunction that they should be waved along with the peace offerings. We learn here that our ordinary bread should be religiously eaten (see 1 Corinthians 10:31).

(4) These wave loaves constituted one of three meat offerings of the whole congregation. The first was the sheaf, or omer, of the firstfruits of the barley harvest (verses 9-14). This was the second. And the third was the twelve loaves of the shewbread (Exodus 25:30; Leviticus 24:5-9). Could there be here a prophetic anticipation of the order of the resurrection, viz. "Christ the Firstfruits; afterwards they that are Christ's at his coming; and, finally, the rest of the dead," destined to live again at the end of the millennial reign, when death shall be abolished?

(comp. 1 Corinthians 15:23-26; Revelation 20).

(5) Beside the firstfruits, which were strictly national, each person had to bring his own firstfruits to the temple (see Deuteronomy 26:1-10). God would have us ever to remember that religion is personal as well as public.

3. They were to offer sacrifices.

(1) The burnt offerings appointed were seven lambs of the first year without blemish, one young bullock, and two rams, or, as elsewhere expressed, two young bullocks and one ram (comp. verse 18; Numbers 28:27). As burnt offerings were intended to expiate sins against affirmative precepts, the godly worshipper would pray during the burning, as David prayed (Psalm 19:13). The meat and drink offerings proper to burnt offerings accompanied (verse 18). These were distinct from the two tenth-deals waved to sanctify the harvest.

(2) A kid of the goats was appointed for a sin offering (verse 19). As sin offerings were to expiate sins committed in ignorance, the thoughts of the worshipper were carried forward to the Great Sin Sacrifice of Calvary.

(3) Two lambs of the first year were appointed for the peace offering. These were distinguished from those usually offered as "holy to the Lord for the priest." They were to be eaten by him before the Lord. For the meat offering which ordinarily accompanied the peace offerings, in this case the two loaves of the firstfruits were substituted (verses 19, 20).


1. They counted from the putting in of the sickle.

(1) This, however, was not left to private option. That would have worked endless confusion; for it was a public, national, act. The Lord is a God of order (1 Corinthians 14:40). It would have tended to will-worship. The evils of this are seen in the Romish Church. We cannot too literally abide by the letter of Divine precept.

(2) It was limited to the second day of the Passover week (verses 15, 16). From this reckoning the Jews call this Feast of Harvest (יום חמשים) the fiftieth day. For the same reason, it is in the New Testament called the Pentecost (Acts 2:1; Acts 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8).

2. They commemorated the giving of the Law.

(1) The observance of the Passover was on the fourteenth of the first month (Exodus 12:18), having seventeen days of that month to run. To these add thirty days of the second month, and we have forty-seven days. But the Law was given on the third day after Moses came into the wilderness of Sinai, which was in the beginning of the third month (Exodus 19:1, 10, 11). These three days added bring the number up to fifty.

(2) Well might the Israelites have a festival of thanksgiving for the giving of the Law; for thereby they were honoured and blessed as no other nation had ever been (Deuteronomy 4:8).

3. They anticipated the publication of the gospel.

(1) The gospel is the Law of God, published from Zion, in contradistinction to that published from Sinai (see Isaiah 2:3). That publication took place "when the day of Pentecost was fully come."

(2) The fifty days were counted from the second day of the Passover week, on which the firstfruits of the barley harvest were presented (verses 15, 16). That "firstfruits" were a type of Christ in his resurrection. After that event he was seen of his disciples during forty days. The Pentecost followed exactly ten days after the Ascension (see Luke 24:49; Acts 2:1).

(3) Note, further, that the Holy Ghost was given on the first day of the week. The Paschal lamb was eaten on Thursday. The Friday on which our Lord was crucified was the first day of the Passover week. On the Saturday the firstfruits were offered up. Consequently, the Pentecost, which was the fiftieth day after, would fall upon the Sunday. Thenceforth this became "the Lord's day," or the Christian sabbath (see Lightfoot on Acts 2). Where gratitude is there will be goodness. Hence the injunction to care for the poor and the stranger (verse 22). This spirit of the Law is also the genius of the gospel. - J.A.M.

Parallel Verses
KJV: 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:

WEB: "'You shall count from the next day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven Sabbaths shall be completed:

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