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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 16

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Observe the month of Abib, and keep the passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month of Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night.

Observe the month of Abib - or first-fruits. It comprehended the latter part of our March and the beginning of April. Green ears of the barley, which were then filled, were offered as first-fruits on the second day of the Passover.

Brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. This statement is apparently at variance with the prohibition, Exodus 12:22, as Welles with the recorded fact that their departure took place in the morning (Exodus 13:3; Numbers 33:3). But it is susceptible of easy reconciliation. Pharaoh's permission, the first step of emancipation, was extorted during night, the preparations for departure commenced, the rendezvous at Rameses made, and the march entered on in the morning.

Verse 2

Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place his name there.

Thou shalt ... sacrifice the Passover, [ Pecach (H6453) ... tso'n (H6629) uwbaaqaar (H1241); Septuagint, thuseis to pascha kurioo too Theoo sou probata kai boas]. The reference is not to the paschal lamb, which was strictly and properly the Passover. The whole solemnity is here meant, as is evident from the mention of the chazizah, the additional victims, peace offerings, that were presented by private individuals on the subsequent days of the feast (Numbers 28:18-19; 2 Chronicles 35:7-9), and from the allusion to the continued use of unleavened bread for seven days, whereas the Passover itself was to be eaten at once.

The words before us are equivalent to 'Thou shalt observe the feast of the Passover' - i:e., the whole festival of seven days (cf. Ezekiel 45:21), including, along with the public sacrifices for every day, the voluntary oblations of individuals. The early Rabbis interpreted "the flock" as referring to the paschal victims, and "the herd" to the chazizah.

Verse 3

Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; 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 camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life.

Unleavened bread - a sour, unpleasant, unwholesome kind of bread, designed to be a memorial of their Egyptian misery, and of the haste with which they departed-not allowing time for their morning dough to ferment.

Verse 4

And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there anything of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 5

Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee:

Thou mayest not sacrifice ... within any of thy gates, [ zebach (H2077), a sacrifice]. This word, which is applied (Jeremiah 7:22) to a great and solemn sacrifice, is used by Moses himself for the Passover. The instructions here given respecting the celebration of the Passover were to the effect that the Israelites were, after their settlement in the promised land, no longer to be at liberty to kill it at home, but in the place which God should choose to put His name there.

The precise time when this change was introduced into the practice of the Israelites is not mentioned; but it was, in all probability, not until the sanctuary was erected in an appointed place, because the Passover was to be offered nowhere but in the court of the tabernacle or temple, since it was not a religious feast or sacramental occasion merely, but an actual sacrifice (Exodus 12:27; Exodus 23:18; Exodus 34:25). The blood had to be sprinkled on the altar and in the place where the true Passover was afterward to be sacrificed for us at evening.

Verse 6

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.

At the going down of the sun - literally between the evenings The first of the two evenings began with the At the going down of the sun - literally, between the evenings, The first of the two evenings began with the declining sun, and terminated at sunset; and the second, which commenced then, continued beyond it. The time appointed for killing the Passover was between them-namely, "at the going down of the sun" (cf. Deuteronomy 21:23; Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:3-5; Numbers 28:4; Joshua 8:29; Joshua 10:27; John 19:31). Hence, according to the rabbinical traditions, the proper time for the killing of the paschal lamb was the interval between the ninth and the eleventh hour-equivalent to our three and five o'clock P.M. (Josephius, 'Wars of the Jews,' b, 6:, ch. 9:, sec.


At the season - i:e., the month and day, though not perhaps the precise hour. The immense number of victims that had to be immolated on the eve of the Passover - i:e., within a space of four hours-has appeared to some writers a great difficulty. But the large number of officiating priests, their dexterity and skill in the preparation of the sacrifices, the wide range of the court, the extraordinary dimensions of the altar of burnt offering, and the orderly method of conducting the solemn ceremonial, rendered it easy to do that in a few hours which would otherwise have required as many days.

Verse 7

And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents.

Thou shalt roast - (see the note at Exodus 12:8: cf. 2 Chronicles 35:13.)

Thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents. The sense of this passage, on the first glance of the words, seems to point to the morning after the first day-the Passover eve. Perhaps, however, the divinely-appointed duration of this feast, its solemn character and important object, the journey of the people from the distant parts of the land to be present, and the recorded examples of their continuing all the time (2 Chronicles 30:21; 2 Chronicles 35:17), though these may be considered extraordinary, and therefore exceptional occasions, may warrant the conclusion that the leave given to the people to return home was to be on the morning after the completion of the seven days. In later times permission to travel on the day after the paschal supper was granted to an extent not enjoyed on the weekly Sabbath, and an attention to secular work was considered lawful on the remaining days of the festival (Matthew 26:3-5; Matthew 27:62; John 7:32-45; John 10:22; John 10:31).

Verse 8

Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 9-10

Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn.

Seven weeks shalt thou number - the feast of weeks, or a WEEK OF WEEKS; the feast of Pentecost (see the notes at Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:10; Acts 2:1). As on the second day of the Passover, a sheaf of new barley, reaped on purpose, was brought into the sanctuary and presented as a thank offering to God, so on the second day of Pentecost a sheaf of new wheat was presented as first-fruits (Exodus 23:16; Numbers 28:26) - a free-will spontaneous tribute of gratitude to God for his temporal bounties. This feast was instituted in memory of the giving of the law-that spiritual food by which man's soul is nourished (Deuteronomy 8:3).

Verse 11

And thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to place his name there.

Thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God ... It was a time of great public rejoicing, in which the servants were to have the privilege of participating. Indeed, the national festivals were holidays for the servants; and repeated injunctions are made that they share in the feast (cf. Deuteronomy 12:18).

Verse 12

And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 13-15

Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine:

Thou shalt observe the feast ... - (see the notes at Exodus 23:16; Leviticus 23:34; Numbers 29:12.) Various conjectures have been formed to account for the appointment of this feast at the conclusion of the whole harvest. Some imagine that it was designed to remind the Israelites of the time when they had no grainfields to reap, but were daily supplied with manna; others think that it suited the convenience of the people better than any other period of the year for dwelling in booths; others, that it was the time of Moses' second descent from the mount; while a fourth class are of opinion that this feast was prospectively fixed to the time of the year when the Word was made flesh and dwelt-literally, tabernacled-among us (John 1:14), Christ being actually born at that season.

In all the works of thine hands ... rejoice - i:e., praising God with a warm and elevated heart. According to Jewish tradition, no marriages were allowed to be celebrated during these great festivals, that no personal or private rejoicings might be mingled with the demonstrations of public and national gladness.

Verse 16

Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty:

All thy males. No command was laid on women to undertake the journeys, partly from regard to the natural weakness of their sex, and partly to their domestic cares.

Verse 17

Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 18-20

Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment.

Judges and officers. These last meant heralds or bailiffs, employed in executing the sentence of their superiors.

In all thy gates. The gate was the place of public resort among the Israelites and other Eastern people, where business was transacted and causes decided. The Ottoman Porte derived its name from the administration of justice at its gates. But the word "gates" is evidently to be taken here in a larger sense, as equivalent to 'cities;' and, accordingly, courts of various grades for the administration of justice were established in every town. There were gradations of these tribunals-from ordinary courts to those of ultimate appeal-presided over by officers of corresponding rank and authority.

Verse 21

Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee.

Thou shalt not plant thee a grove. A grove has in Scripture a variety of significations-a group of overshadowing trees, or a grove adorned with altars dedicated to a particular deity, or a wooden image in a grove (Judges 6:25; 2 Kings 23:4-6). They might be placed near the earthen and temporary altars erected in the wilderness, but they could not exist either at the tabernacle or temples. They were places which, with their usual accompaniments, presented strong allurements to idolatry; and therefore the Israelites were prohibited from planting them.

Verse 22

Neither shalt thou set thee up any image; which the LORD thy God hateth.

Neither shalt thou set thee up any image, [ matseebaah (H4676)] - erroneously rendered so for 'pillar.' Pillars of various kinds, and materials of wood or stone, were erected in the neighbourhood of altars. Sometimes they were conical or oblong, at other times they served as pedestals for the statues of idols (see the notes at Genesis 28:16-22; Exodus 24:4; Isaiah 19:19; Jeremiah 43:13: cf. 2 Kings 3:2; 2 Kings 10:26; Hosea 10:1; Micah 5:12). A superstitious reverence was attached to them, and hence, they were forbidden.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 16". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/deuteronomy-16.html. 1871-8.
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