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Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 23

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-44

Leviticus 23:3. Convocation. מקרא , mickra is rendered ecclesia, or church, seventy times, and synagogue thirty seven times. In the next phrase it is changed for the word dwellings, for the Lord loveth the gates of Zion more than all the dwellingplaces of Jacob. Though his throne was fixed in the temple, he was present also in every holy convocation, whether called synagogue or church. An apostle gives the name of synagogue to a christian assembly. James 2:2. The churches were all synagogues reformed to Christ.

Leviticus 23:10. The first-fruits of your harvest. The barley harvest was about Easter, or a little after. Exodus 9:31-32. Ruth 2:23. The harvest could not be touched till this offering was made to the Lord.

Leviticus 23:18. Their drink-offerings, accompanying the victims, were oil and wine. Salt, meal, flour, and frankincense were superadded.

Leviticus 23:44. The feasts; all the feasts, except the feast of the new moon.


The repetition of the festivals in this place is regarded as a privilege, and a mark of the divine care; for Israel had line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, that no man might be unacquainted with the laws of God. The institution of religious festivals was a most salutary display of the divine wisdom. Acquaintance with revelation, and the various acts of personal and national devotion, require time and opportunity. These holy festivals diverted the people from all the idleness and unbounded wickedness attendant on the gentile feasts.

In the arrangement of the Hebrew festivals, the sabbath holds the first place, as the highest and holiest of days for devotion. Let us learn to hallow and devote it to God. Being a type of heaven, it is of everlasting obligation, and a day of holy convocation. Let the giddy crowds, let the haunters of tea gardens, let the sordid venders and drudges of toil be confounded, as open profaners of a day honoured by a thousand marvels; and as tramplers on the divine precepts, who shall not go unpunished. Next is the passover, in memory of the deliverance from Egypt. Oh it is good to remember the mercies and lovingkindnesses of the Lord; by so doing, our covenant with him is renewed, and accompanied with an increase of blessings.

Before the paschal feast expired, fresh joy was added to Israel; the priest was seen swinging round a sheaf of barley, the earliest fruit of the year, as an acknowledgment that the whole harvest was the gift of heaven. The christian also has a double feast to celebrate at once; the redemption of the world by our Lord Jesus Christ, and the gift of all temporal and eternal blessings in him. What shall we render to the Lord for all his benefits? Let us never forget his mercies, but offer unto him the firstfruits of our youth, and the firstfruits of devotion every morning.

The feast of weeks, Deuteronomy 16:10; that is, of the seven weeks or pentecost, from the passover to the giving of the law, was next celebrated; and now they could present oblations of their wheat harvest, and rejoice over the added mercies of a fruitful year. How good is the Lord: his hands are never weary of scattering gifts on man. The christian Israel may here keep pace, and even triumph over Israel according to the flesh. Our pentecost is not merely the blessings of the year, but the descent of the Holy Spirit, with all his graces, to prove the glorification of Christ, and to give effect to the preaching of the gospel. God had reserved some better things for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

The trees were scarcely relieved of their heavy load, and the tender vine of its purple clusters, before the month of Tisri ushered in a group of festivals. (See the table, Exodus 12:0.) The feast of trumpets was the first day of that month; for the earth was created about that time of the year, when the fruits were ripe and ready for man. It was about the same time of the year that our blessed Lord began his ministry, and sounded the gospel trumpet, or glad tidings of great joy through all the land of Israel.

The tenth day of the above month was the great day of national atonement, a day of recollection, seriousness and prayer. Oh my soul, never forget the day when Jesus by the direct witness of his Holy Spirit, or by some encouraging drawings of his love, first vouchsafed to assure thee of a pardon: no day of all thy life is more to be remembered than that.

This day of atonement was followed with a season of the greatest joy, for on the fifteenth day the feast of tabernacles commenced. The labours of the harvest and the vintage being closed, leisure was afforded for the people to rejoice seven days before the Lord. The fields around Jerusalem exhibited a nation encamped in tents and booths, to perpetuate the recollection of ten thousand mercies, which their fathers received while encamped and wandering in the desert. On the first day the altars of God smoked with two hundred and fifteen victims, according to the number of years which Israel had dwelt in Egypt, besides a multitude of oblations arising from vows and gifts. The worship of the temple was adapted to the day; and the young people, loaded with green boughs and fruits, paraded the streets, singing Hosannas to the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Leviticus 23". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/leviticus-23.html. 1835.
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