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Sanctification of the Feasts
“Keeping holy the theocratic times and places, the feasts and their cultus, the most holy name of the covenant God and His holy land.”—Lange.
Of the Sabbaths and Annual Feasts
“The Holy Seasons, Laws of the Feasts. Sabbath, Easter, Pentecost, the Seventh New-Moon or Sabbath of the Year, the Day of Atonement and the Feast of Tabernacles.”—Lange.
The following, under Lange’s Exegetical, may properly be placed here. “The foundation of these developed ordinances for the feasts has already presented itself in Exodus 20:8-11; Exodus 31:14” [add Exodus 23:14-19; Exodus 34:21-26, and in regard to the Passover, the full account of its institution, Exodus 12:3-27; Exodus 12:43-50,—F. G.]; “the section, Numbers 28:29, contains more specific directions about the sacrifices which were to be offered on the feast days.” [The three great festivals are also described in Deuteronomy 16:1-17, and the reading of the law required at the feast of tabernacles in the Sabbatical year, Deuteronomy 31:10-13.—F. G.]. “Here the treatment is of the organic appearance of the whole festivity of Israel in the unity of its collective holy feasts, with the ordinance of the festal cultus (“Feast-calendar,” Knobel says, which is set aside by Keil); in the Book of Numbers the sacrifices are plainly specified as the requirements of the theocratic state, an indication that they were not the principal things in the ideas of the cultus.
“Upon this important section the article Feste in Winer and others, is to be compared, as well as the rich literature in Knobel, p. 541, to which add Kranold, commentatio de anno Hebræorum Jubilæo. Gottingæ, Dietrich, 1838.” [See also Philo περὶ τῆς ‛Εβδόμης; Baehr, Symbolik bk. iv.; Ewald Alterthümer; Kalisch on Exodus 20:0, etc.; Michaelis Laws of Moses, Art. 74–76, 194–201; Bochart, Hieroz.; and the appropriate articles in Smith’s Bible Dict., Kitto’s Cyclop. of Bib. lit., Herzog’s Real-Encykl., and the various literature cited in these.—F. G.].
“The Hebrew festivals are to be regarded especially in a two-fold aspect: 1. The holy seasons (מוֹעֲדֵי יְהוָֹה). 2. The ideas of the different feasts, the holy convocations (מִקְרָאֵי קֹדֶשׁ).
“The holy seasons are, according to their prevalent fundamental number, the number seven, collectively, memorial feasts of the creation; the Sabbath, as the seventh day; Pentecost, as the feast of the seventh week; the seventh new moon, with its following Day of atonement and feast of tabernacles, as the feast of the seventh month; the Sabbatical year, as the festival of the seven Sabbath years; and the Praise year or year of Jubilee; the 50th year, as the festival of the completed seven, the seven times seven, the prophetic festival of the new eternal festal season, (Leviticus 25:0).
“Even through the single feasts the number seven runs again: seven days of unleavened bread, seven days in tabernacles, and no less indeed is it reflected in the sevenfold number of the festal sacrifices.
“The datum, however, from which the whole construction of the festal season proceeds, on which the whole building rests, is the datum of the typical deliverance of Israel (Leviticus 23:15). The line of feasts culminates indeed in a festival [Tabernacles, the last feast of the year] which plainly, as a symbol of the completed deliverance stands over against the [Passover as a symbol of the] beginning of deliverance.” [From another point of view the Passover (which, as such, is not mentioned in this chapter) is generally regarded as a memorial of the deliverance from Egypt in its totality, and in its typical significance it points forward to the deliverance from sin through the death of Christ; and this again has its memorial in the Lord’s Supper, pointing forward to the feast of the Lamb in heaven. The feast of tabernacles, on the other hand, was expressly commemorative of the very temporary dwelling in booths (סֻכּוֹת = huts made of branches; the סֻכָּה is to be distinguished from the אֹהֶל = tent, the comparatively permanent dwelling of the wilderness) see Leviticus 23:42-43, and comp. Exodus 12:37; Exodus 13:20.—F. G.]. * * *
“With regard to the natural aspect of the Israelitish feasts, they are divided into pre-Mosaic, Mosaic (for that the feasts here appointed belong to the original Mosaic legislation is admitted by Knobel), and later feasts.
“In the first class, however, can only be placed with certainty a tradition of the Sabbath, the feast of the new moon, and the harvest feast. Upon the heathen festal seasons see the full notes of Knobel, p. 537 sqq.
“It is however in the highest degree noteworthy, that the Israelitish ordering of the feasts forms an unmistakable contrast to the heathen customs. At the time of the Spring feast the Jewish Easter was kept, which, in connection with its unleavened bread, expresses a very solemn meaning, and is not at all to be judged by the Christian Easter. At the time of the autumnal equinox, however, when the Syrians (and the Egyptians) mourned over the death of Adonis the summer sun (like the Germanic Baldur), the Jews kept their most joyful feast, and freely used the green branches of summer before they faded.” [The contrast would bear to be even more strongly expressed, for the feast of Tabernacles occurred more than a month later than the autumnal equinox.—F. G.]. “It was as if they had wished to celebrate the triumph of the theocratic spirit over the natural sadness for the death of beautiful nature; as they certainly accent the blessing of God and His judgment in this present life in contrast to the dark Egyptian necromancy with its prophecy inspired this side the grave, and in contrast to the melancholy cultus of the world of death beyond the grave.
“As to the explanation of the apparently superfluous days in the seven day feasts, the eighth day of unleavened bread, and the eighth day of the feast of Tabernacles (a question which also concerns the 50th week of the 50th year as a year of Jubilee), it is certainly sufficient to say, that the festal close of such great days or weeks and years was to be particularly emphasized. (Comp. Knobel, p. 549).
“The second Easter day as the feast of the first beginning of the harvest, the beginning of the barley harvest, the feast of the ears (Abib, ear month), corresponds to the completed wheat harvest which was celebrated at the feast of Tabernacles (later, Pentecost because fifty days were reckoned from Easter to its celebration), and both these harvest feasts, of the necessities of life and of the abundance of life, form a contrast to the harvest feast of joy [feast of Tabernacles] for the refreshing and comforting gifts of God, the fruit, the oil and the wine.
“A strikingly isolated position is given to the feast of Pentecost between the other feasts. Since as the chief harvest feast it seems to be only a natural feast, there was sought, and later, there was also found, in addition to its natural aspect, a holy and theocratic aspect also, in that this feast has been described as the feast of the law (since Maimonides. See on the other hand Keil, p. 151”) [Translation p. 444, note]. * * *
“The increased sacrifices of the yearly feasts must form a symbolical expression of the self-surrender of the nation to Jehovah, renewed by the feasts, as it was elevated by the thanksgiving for His gifts,—the ever new gifts of creation, the ever new gifts of atonement and of deliverance.
“That which makes feasts to be feasts is as follows: 1) They are high seasons appointed by God, seasons of the fulfilment of Divine promise and of human hope. 2) Seasons in which the union of God and man, as well as of men with one another, and thus fellowship with God and brotherhood with man was celebrated. 3) Seasons in which nature, together with man, appears in the dress of theocratic sanctification. 4) In which the highest happiness of human fellowship arises from the highest joyfulness of sacrifice to Jehovah. 5) Seasons which have a great sequence, and form a chain from the feast of deliverance in the night of judgment and of fear (Passover) to the feast of holy freedom and joy (Tabernacles).” Lange.
In regard to the times of the festivals, it is to be remembered that God in His dealings with man always shows a tender regard for the nature with which He has constituted man. The Hebrew festivals were therefore so arranged as to combine the most important religious memorials and types with the occasions of national and social need. The Passover was the greatest of all the annual festivals of the Hebrews, and was the only one resting upon a distinct historical and miraculous event, and the only one, too, the neglect of which was accompanied with the penalty of excision (Numbers 9:13). The obligation to observe it was so urgent upon every adult circumcised Israelite, that alone of all the feasts it had attached to it a second observance at the same time in the following month for those who were prevented from keeping it by absence on a journey, or by defilement from contact with a dead body—the only causes which interfered with the eating of the paschal lamb. Historically, it was far more generally observed than either of the other festivals. Attached to this, and often included in the general name of Passover, was the week of unleavened bread; but the strictness of the command for the observance of the Passover itself did not apply to this. See Deuteronomy 16:7. The Passover was celebrated in the month Abib or Nisan; and this month, as the month of the great national deliverance from Egypt, became the first of the ecclesiastical year. Just at this time occurred the beginning of the barley harvest, and the festival for this was accordingly so associated with the Passover, that a sheaf of the first-fruits was to be waved before the Lord on the morrow after the Sabbath. The time of the feast of weeks, or Pentecost, was determined by the Passover, from which it was distant just fifty-two days, as we still reckon from Good-Friday to Whitsunday; for seven weeks complete, or forty-nine days were reckoned from “the morrow after the Sabbath,” or the second day after the eating of the Paschal lamb itself, making fifty-one days, and then the feast was to be held on the following day. The symbolism of the sevens is therefore to be sought rather in the means of computing the time than in the relation of the festivals to one another. Pentecost occurred at the close of the grain harvest, and was celebrated as a thanksgiving, with especial liberality to the poor and needy in remembrance that the Israelites themselves had been bondmen in Egypt. (Deuteronomy 16:9-12). This feast continued but a single day, and its distinguishing rite was the waving before the Lord of two leavened loaves prepared from the first fruits of the wheat.
With the coming in of the seventh month the civil year began. Of the existence of this year as distinguished from the ecclesiastical year, there can be no reasonable doubt. It has indeed been called in question; “but the form of expression in Exodus 12:2, the commencement of the Sabbatical and Jubilee years in the month Ethanim, or Tisri, the tradition of both the rabbinical and Alexandrian Jews, and the fact that the new moon festival of Tisri is the only one—not excepting that of Nisan—which is distinguished by peculiar observance, seem to bear sufficient testimony to a more ancient computation of time than that instituted by Moses in connection with the Passover. Another argument is furnished by Exodus 23:16.” Clark. Accordingly, as generally in all times and among all nations, the New Year was ushered in by a special observance. Among the Hebrews this took the form of “the Feast of Trumpets.” This was marked by “an holy convocation;” but attendance upon it was not obligatory. On the tenth day of the same month occurred the solemn fast of the Day of Atonement already treated in Leviticus 16:0. Both these continued but a single day. On the fifteenth day of the same month (which was thus far more marked by religious solemnities than any other), began the Feast of Tabernacles, continuing for seven days with “an holy convocation” following on the eighth day. The attendance obligatory at this would naturally have led to a large presence of the people on the Day of Atonement, only five days before. It was the great harvest festival at the close of the agricultural season, corresponding to our Thanksgiving day, and was very joyfully celebrated. It was also connected with the theocratic system by the injunction to dwell in booths in memory of the Exodus from Egypt.
With all these, and pervading them, was the weekly Sabbath, a remembrance in its recurrence of God’s rest from the work of creation (Exodus 20:11), and in its determination to the seventh day of the week of the deliverance from Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:15).
In regard to the detail of these several festivals, see the Exegetical.
The Jews were prohibited by the law from all work only on the fifty-two weekly Sabbaths and on the Day of Atonement; they were also prohibited from all servile work on the days of holy convocation, viz. two each in connection with the Passover and the Feast of Tabernacles, one at the Feast of Pentecost, and one at the New Moon of Tisri, the seventh month. There is no prescription in the law in regard to cessation of work on the other New Moons; but from Amos 8:5 they appear to have been, at least in later times, observed as Sabbaths. These would make in all seventy days, which would be reduced somewhat by the occurrence of some of the other days, and especially of the festival Sabbaths, one year with another, upon the weekly Sabbath; but on several of these days the prohibition extended only to servile work, and the feasts were probably largely used like European fairs, for purposes of trade. See a slightly different computation in Michaelis, Laws, Art. 201.
The three greater festivals, Passover, Pentecost and Tabernacles, were required to be observed by the assembling of the whole adult male population at the place of the sanctuary. This was doubtless fully carried out during the life in the wilderness, but does not appear to have been ever completely observed in subsequent history. All these festivals were, however, attended by large numbers, and the devouter part of the people went up to the sanctuary at least once in the year (1 Samuel 1:3; 1 Samuel 1:21; Luke 2:41, etc.), which appears to have been most commonly at the Passover. The women were not obliged, but were allowed to attend, and frequently did so, as well as partake of the Paschal lamb.
Besides these annual feasts, there were the Sabbatical years, when the land was required to lie fallow, and all fruits were common property. This command could hardly have been complied with at all until after the return from the captivity (see 2 Chronicles 36:21), and the existence of such an unobserved law is a strong proof of the genuineness of the Mosaic legislation. There was also the Year of Jubilee, the fiftieth year, which as it affected the tenure of land that had been sold, is likely to have been more continuously observed. It certainly was recognized in the days of Jeremiah (Jeremiah 32:6-15). On the question whether it had continued to be observed in the intervening time, see Maimonides and Ewald in the affirmative, Michaelis (Laws, Art. 76) and Winer (sub voce), who are in doubt, and Kranold (p. 80) and Hupfeld (pt. iii., p. 20), who confidently deny that the provisions for this year ever came into actual operation.
Precisely what was meant by an holy convocation we have no means of ascertaining, except from the word itself. Doubtless in the wilderness life it would have meant a general assembling of the people for the purposes of the day, and the same sense may be held to apply to the three great festivals when all males were required to appear at the place of the sanctuary, but this cannot be true, after the settlement in Canaan, of the weekly Sabbath and of the Day of Atonement. Probably there were on these days gatherings for religious edification accompanied with rest from work in the various towns and villages throughout the land, just as there were in the Synagogues after the return from the Captivity. There were also probably such gatherings at the time of the Convocations of the greater festivals of those who did not go up to the Sanctuary.
Besides the weekly Sabbaths, there were in all seven Convocations in the year: the first and last days of the feasts of unleavened bread, and of Tabernacles, the days of Pentecost and of Atonement, and the Feast of Trumpets.
1And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 2Speak 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 [unto them, The appointed times of the Lord which ye shall proclaim as holy convocations, these are my appointed times1].
3Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest,2 an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the Lord in all your dwellings.
4These3 are the feasts of the Lord, even [These appointed times1 of the Lord are] holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons [appointed times1].
5In the fourteenth day4 of the first month at even is the Lord’s passoLev Leviticus 23:6 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. 7In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile5 work therein. 8But 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.
9And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 10Speak 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 sheaf6 of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest: 11and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it. 12And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb [a ram7] without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the Lord. 13And the meat offering [oblation8] 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 the9 drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin. 14And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn [grain], 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.
15And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths10 shall be complete: 16even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath10 shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering [oblation8] unto the Lord. 17Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves11 of two tenth deals: they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the Lord. 18And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs [rams7] without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two [full-grown12] rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the Lord, with their meat offering [oblation8], and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the Lord. 19Then ye shall sacrifice one kid [buck13] of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs [rams7] of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings. 20And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the Lord, with the two lambs [rams7]: they shall be holy to the Lord for the priest. 21And 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.
22And 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.
23And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 24Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath [a sabbath rest14], a memorial of blowing of trumpets,15 an holy convocation. 25Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the Lord.
26And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 27Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be [only the tenth of this seventh month Isaiah 16:0] 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. 28And 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. 29For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people. 30And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people. 31Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations 32in all your dwellings. It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest,2 and ye shall afflict your souls; in the ninth day of the month at even,17 from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath [your rest18].
33And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, 34Speak 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. 35On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein. 36Seven 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,19 and ye shall do no servile work therein.
37These are the feasts [appointed times1] 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 [an oblation8], a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day: 38beside 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.
39Also [Only16] in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered [at your gathering in20] 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. 40And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs [fruit21] of goodly trees,22 branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees,23 and willows of the brook; 41and 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. 42Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 43that 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.
44And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts [appointed times1] of the Lord.
TEXTUAL AND GRAMMATICAL
Leviticus 23:2. The word מועֵד according to all authorities means primarily a fixed, appointed time (Genesis 21:2; Jeremiah 8:7, etc.) and it is so translated in Leviticus 23:4 in their seasons. Thence it came to be used for the festivals occurring at set times (Zechariah 8:19). Besides these meanings the word has the divided signification of the assembly which came together at these times, and then the assembly or congregation generally (whence the expression Tabernacle of congregation), and then also the place of the assembly. The derivative significations are here out of the question. It occurs in this chapter five times, and is not elsewhere used in Lev. except in the phrase Tabernacle of congregation. With the same exception, it is uniformly translated time or season (set or appointed) in Gen. and Ex., and generally in Num. The translation four times by feasts in this chap. is therefore exceptional and supported only by a few instances in Num. It is better therefore to conform the translation here to the usage. There is a difficulty with either translation in the fact that a holy convocation was not proclaimed on the Day of Atonement;—that is broadly applied to all, which was strictly true of nearly all the particulars mentioned. But feasts labors under the further disadvantage that the Day of atonement was a fast.
Leviticus 23:3. The translation necessarily fails to convey the full force of the Heb. שַׁכַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן a very strong expression used only of the days and years of rest appointed in the Mosaic legislation.
Leviticus 23:4. The Heb. has אֵלֶּה, the Sam. prefixes ו. According to Houbigant the former refers to what has preceded, the latter to what follows. In this case the Sam. reading is preferable.
Leviticus 23:5. The missing יוֹם is supplied in 15 MSS. and the Sam.
Leviticus 23:7. “מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדהָ, occupation of a work, signifies labor 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, etc.; whilst מְלָאכָה is the performance of any kind of work, e.g., kindling fire for cooking food (Exodus 35:2-3).” Keil.
Leviticus 23:10. עֹמֶר. The A. V. is probably right in translating here sheaf, which according to the lexicographers is the primary meaning of the word. See Deuteronomy 24:19; Ruth 2:7; Ruth 2:15, etc. It is so translated by the LXX., Vulg., and Luther, as well as by Gesen., Fürst, Lee, and others. On the other hand Josephus (Ant. iii. 10, 5), and the Mishna, take it in its de rived and more usual sense of an Omer, viz., of the flour from the grain, offered with oil and frankincense as an oblation. Perhaps in later times the omer of the flour was substituted for the original sheaf of the grain.
Leviticus 23:12. כֶּבֶשׂ. See Textual Note 5 on Leviticus 3:7. Here the sex is indicated.
Leviticus 23:13. מִנְחָתוֹ. See Textual Note 2 on Leviticus 2:1. The pronoun is masc. with reference to the sex of the sacrifice.
Leviticus 23:13. The A. V. here and in the previous clause substitutes the def. art. for the masc. pronoun. The Heb, text נִסְכּה is pointed in accordance with the k’ri נסכו which is also the Sam. reading.
Leviticus 23:15. Some critics (Keil, Clark, and others) would render here and in Leviticus 25:8 seven weeks, in accordance with the use of שַׁבָּת in the Talmud, and of σάββατον in the N. T. The word seems to be used here, however, rather by a figure of speech as in Leviticus 25:2; Leviticus 25:4, etc., and the definite meaning of week to be of later origin. The תְּמִימֹת on which Keil relies, agrees with the main idea.
Leviticus 23:17. The Sam. here supplies the word חַלּוֹת which is uniformly translated cakes in the A. V., and may indicate the kind of bread used.
Leviticus 23:18 אֵילִם indicates strong and full-grown rams of maturer age than the כְּבָשׂים of the first clause. The Sam. 3 MSS. and LXX. add “without blemish.”
Leviticus 23:19. שְׂעִיר־עִזִּים. See Textual Note21 on Leviticus 4:23.
Leviticus 23:24. שַׁבָּתוֹן here stands by itself without the שַׁבָּת used in Leviticus 23:3. When thus used by itself Rosenmüller says “de iis tantum feriis dicitur, quæ non in septimum hebdomadis diem, qui שַׁבָּת, cessatio ab opere κατ’ ἐξοχὴν dicitur, incidit.” It should therefore be rendered by another term, and the one suggested by Clark is adopted.
Leviticus 23:24. There is nothing in the Heb. corresponding to the words of trumpets, which should therefore be in italics. The Heb. reads simply זִכְרוֹן תְּרוּעָה = a memorial of a joyful noise. תְּרוּעָה is frequently used in connection with various kinds of trumpets and other instruments (Numbers 31:6; Leviticus 25:9; Psalms 150:5), denoting the clangor of those instruments, but it is also quite as frequently used without reference to an instrument of any kind (Numbers 23:21; Job 8:21; Job 33:26; Ezra 3:11; Ezra 3:13, etc.). The silver trumpets of the temple were however blown on all the festivals, including the new moons (Numbers 10:10), and there is no reason to question the tradition that on “the feast of trumpets” horns or cornets of some kind were blown generally throughout the land. The LXX. has μνημόσυνον σαλπίγγων, the Vulg. memoriale clangentibus tubis.
Leviticus 23:27. אַךְ is a particle of limitation, and thus in this case of emphasis. It is better to omit the italicised words there shall be, and translate according to the usual construction of a Heb. clause ending with הוּא.
Leviticus 23:32. The word בָּעֶרֶב = at even is omitted in one MS., LXX., and Vulg.
Leviticus 23:32. The margin of the A. V. is more correct than the text. The Heb. is תִּשְׁבְּתוּ שַׁבַּתְּכֶם.
Leviticus 23:36. עֲצֶרֶב is a word the signification of which has been much questioned. The translation of the LXX. ἐξόδίόν ἐστι, meaning the close of the festival, is defended by Fürst, and adopted by Patrick; so also Theodoret, referring not only to this feast, but to the whole cycle of feasts, τὸ τέλος τῶν ἑορτῶν, and so also Keil. Michaelis, using an Arabic etymology, interprets it of pressing out the grapes. The sense of the margin of the A. V. day of restraint is said to be advocated by Iken in a special dissertation (Con. Ikenii Dissertatt. Ludg. Batav. 1749) and is adopted by Abarbanel and other Jewish writers. The text of the A. V. assembly is defended by Rosenmüller (3d Ed.), advocated by Gesenius, and is that given by onkeios, the Vulg., and Syr. The LXX. also elsewhere translates the word πανήγυρις (Amos 5:2) and σύνοδος (Jeremiah 9:2). The word occurs but ten times, in five of which it refers to the last day of one of the great feasts, and in one other (Jeremiah 9:2 ) it clearly means assembly. Josephus (Ant. iii. 10, 6) applies it as a customary phrase to the feast of Pentecost. It is the day referred to in John 7:37 as “the last day, that great day of the feast.”
Leviticus 23:39. בְּאָסְפְכֶם. It is better to preserve the indefiniteness of the original which does not determine whether the harvest was already fully gathered. Clark thinks that this could rarely have been the case.
Leviticus 23:40. The Heb., as noted in the margin of the A. V., is fruit, and it is better to retain the word even if it be explained (Keil) of “the shoots and branches of the trees.” According to the most ancient traditions, however, it was customary at this feast to carry in one hand some fruit, and the word is retained in all the ancient versions.
Leviticus 23:40. עֵץ הָדָר, lit. ornamental trees, a generic word including the various kinds specified just below. So the Sam., LXX., Syr., and Vulg., the lexicons, and most interpreters. Jewish tradition, however, incorporated into the Targums and Josephus (Ant. xiii. 13, 5) understands it specifically of the Citron.
Leviticus 23:40. עֵץ־עָבֹת. The rendering of the A. V. is sustained by almost all authorities, meaning trees of various kinds having thick foliage. The Targums all interpret it specifically of myrtles, which cannot be right, as in the account of the celebration of this feast in Nehemiah 8:15 the myrtle and the thick trees are distinguished.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
This chapter consists of five Divine communications to Moses, beginning respectively with Leviticus 23:1; Leviticus 23:9; Leviticus 23:23; Leviticus 23:26; Leviticus 23:33, all of which, except that concerning the day of Atonement, Leviticus 23:26, he is directed to speak unto the children of Israel. The first of these (1–8) relates to the weekly Sabbath, the Passover, and the following feast of unleavened bread; the second (9–22) to the wave sheaf in connection with the last feast, and the feast of weeks, or Pentecost; the third (23–25) to the civil New Year, or the New Moon of the seventh month of the ecclesiastical year; the fourth (26–32) to the great Day of Atonement; the last (33–44) to the feast of tabernacles.
Leviticus 23:2 forms the heading or introduction to the whole chapter. This is a full list of all those days and years, all the appointed times which the Lord had marked out as to be separated and distinguished from the ordinary course of the daily life; yet it does not include the ordinary new moons on which special sacrifices were also to be offered. Numbers 28:11-15.
Leviticus 23:3. First of all comes the weekly Sabbath, a day to be observed by a total cessation from all work and by an holy invocation. On the last expression see the close of the preliminary note. The weekly Sabbath is placed in the same way before the annual appointed times in Exodus 23:12-17; Numbers 28:9-29. No reason is here given for this observance. It was certainly pre-Mosaic, and in the fourth commandment is made to rest upon the example of the Divine cessation from the works of creation. But this refers only to the observance of rest in a proportionate part of the time—one day in every seven, and therefore has no bearing upon the actual length of the creative work. In the repetition of the commandments in Deuteronomy 5:0, the observance of this rest on the particular day of the week, Saturday, is grounded on the deliverance from Egypt, that great mark of the Divine favor and national birth-day which enters more or less into nearly all the feasts.
A great part of Lange’s Exegetical under this chapter has been already given in the preliminary note. All that follows what is given there will be found below.
“1. The Sabbath.—The six days of work are the foundation and the condition of the rest of the seventh day. The prohibition not only of servile labor (עֲבֹדָה), but also of the higher and freer business (מְלָאכָה), forces the nobler sort of men directly to look in upon themselves, to devotion, and so to celebrate the feast. The Sabbath Sabbathon (the Sabbath feast) has, however, been here already appointed for the assembling in the Sanctuary, a thing which was possible in the desert journeys, and later in Canaan, was fulfilled by the substitution of the synagogues (see Winer, Synagogen), and thus was the germ of all festivals.” Lange. On the interval of nearly a thousand years between the desert journeys and the institution of Synagogues, see preliminary note.
The weekly Sabbaths are in a sense included among the appointed times of Leviticus 23:2, but yet are distinguished from them by the fresh heading of Leviticus 23:4 and by Leviticus 23:37-38. They were indeed appointed times, but appointed from the creation of man, not first prescribed by the Mosaic law. The expression at the close of the verse in all your dwellings is interpreted by the Jewish writers to mean everywhere, in or out of the Holy Land. Certainly it is thus comprehensive; but the expression is more important as distinguishing the convocation of these days from those of the annual festivals. These were to be celebrated at home, in each town and village and hamlet, and thus “kept alive the knowledge and piety of the simple yeoman in all the land.… This single verse affords an interesting prospect of the unwritten history of Israel’s rural piety.” Murphy.
Leviticus 23:4-8. Leviticus 23:4 is simply the heading in substance of Leviticus 23:2 repeated to distinguish the annual from the weekly festival. Leviticus 23:5-8 relate to the Passover and the feast of unleavened bread, which are here, as in Exodus 12:0 and Numbers 28:16-17, clearly distinguished from each other. The same distinction is observed by Josephus (Ant. III. 10, 5), but both names came to be used interchangeably as in the New Test., especially in St. John. Of all the annual festivals the Passover came first in the cycle of the ecclesiastical year, first in the great historic event it commemorated, first in its obligation, and first in its spiritual and typical significance. The Paschal lamb was to be slain on the 14th Nisan “between the evenings,” and eaten in the following evening, i.e. according to the Hebrew division of the days, on the beginning of the 15th. But with the 15th began the first day of holy convocation, so that the two feasts were thus actually blended into one. Lange: “2. The feast of unleavened bread.—With this begin the feasts in the more peculiar sense, which were proclaimed, and in Canaan are also feasts of convocation of Israel at the sanctuary (for the male youth and men).… The 15th day is particularly the feast of Mazzoth, which lasts seven days, but in such wise that only the first and last day are in the more strict sense festival days which exclude all business. To these two feasts was appended in a certain sense as a third the preliminary feast of the harvest. It speaks for the antiquity of the text that this feast was postponed to the future. Not until they came into Palestine could Israel gather in harvests and offer sheaves of the first fruits. The first sheaf cut from the first field produce is meant, viz. barley (on the barley harvest in Palestine, see Keil, p. 148).” [Trans., p. 439. Keil refers to Philo and Josephus for the statement that the sheaf was of barley, and says this is not expressly mentioned because it was a matter of course. “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).” F. G.] “The sheaf was to be waved before Jehovah. Does this mean: hallowed indeed to Jehovah, but given to the priest? So it seems from Leviticus 23:20. But according to Exodus 29:24; Exodus 29:27, that which was waved was in part brought to the altar and in part designated as for Moses [i.e. for Aaron and his sons]. So the sanctification to Jehovah was to be the principal idea of the waving, but certainly with the secondary idea that it was only ideally offered to Jehovah for the use of the priest. The first day of the Mazzoth was reckoned as a Sabbath, and the sheaf of the first fruits was presented on the second of the seven days. That day was distinguished by a festal sacrifice. But the sacrifice is small, for the year is yet poor—of less value than the later sacrifices: one lamb for the burnt offering, two tenths (of an Ephah) of wheat flour moistened with oil for the oblation, to which was added the fourth part of an hin for a drink offering. Under this condition only was Israel acceptable in its preliminary feast of the harvest, and the prohibition is a very prominent thing: before Jehovah has received His sheaf of the first, fruits nothing of the new bread can be eaten. A law for posterity! says the legislation in the wilderness.” [The first Divine communication of this chapter closes with Leviticus 23:8. It contains the command for the observance of the Sabbath, of the Passover, and the general direction for the observance of the feast of unleavened bread. Here it ends, and a new communication begins with Leviticus 23:9, and extends to Leviticus 23:22 containing the commands for the wave sheaf, which was a part of the feast of unleavened bread, and for the feast of Pentecost. The reason for this apparent dislocation of the logical arrangement is obvious: what was directed in the first communication was to be immediately observed during the wilderness life, while the wave sheaf and Pentecost could not be, and were not intended to be observed until the entrance upon the land of Canaan. There is here therefore an incidental, but very strong evidence of the date of this legislation. At any other time than during the wilderness-life, all the precepts for the feast of unleavened bread would certainly have been arranged in the same paragraph. Leviticus 23:11. On the morrow after the Sabbath.—Various opinions have been held in regard to this Sabbath. According to the Bœthoseans (see Lightfoot on Luke 6:1) the beginning of the ecclesiastical year was so arranged that the Passover always fell on the Sabbath, and consequently “the morrow after the Sabbath” and the feast of Pentecost were always observed on the first day of the week. This opinion has been adopted by several modern authorities, as Hitzig, Hupfeld, Knobel, Kurtz. The two former of these think that the sheaf was waved after the conclusion of the feast on the 22d of the month; the two latter, on the 15th, the first day of holy convocation. It has been confuted by Bähr and Weiseler, and is rejected by Keil and Clark on the ground that such an arrangement would involve a broken or partial week almost invariably at the close of the year, which is of course inadmissible. It may be added further that the first day and the seventh day of the feast could not possibly have both fallen upon the weekly Sabbath, and that the provision for both is the same (Leviticus 23:7-8) forbidding only servile work. Another opinion is that the Sabbath was that weekly Sabbath which must occur on one of the days of the feast. This was the view of the Sadducees and of the Karaite Jews, but while it rests upon no positive support, seems sufficiently refuted by the argument of Keil (note, p. 440) that “if the Sabbath was not fixed, but might fall upon any day of the seven days’ feast of Mazzoth, and therefore as much as five 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 (comp. Ranke, Pentateuch II. 108).” The better view is that found in the LXX., Philo, Josephus, the Targums, and the Rabbinical writers generally, and which seems most in accordance with the text itself, that the Sabbath was simply the festival Sabbath, the 15th Abib, on whatever day of the week it might happen to fall. So Lange below. The sheaf of first fruits was then waved on the 16th, and from that day the time was reckoned to the feast of Pentecost. “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.” Keil. The offerings of Leviticus 23:12-13, were especially connected with the wave sheaf, and were additional to the regular feast day sacrifices prescribed in Numbers 28:19-24. The oblation was doubled (see Exodus 29:40; Numbers 15:4; Numbers 28:21) as was appropriate to a harvest festival; but the drink offering (which in Leviticus is mentioned only here and in Leviticus 23:18; Leviticus 23:37) remained as usual. Leviticus 23:14. Bread .… parched grain .… green ears are the three forms in which grain was commonly eaten, and the expression is equivalent to forbidding its use in any form whatever before the waving of the sheaf of first-fruits.—F. G.].
“3. The Feast of Weeks. [Leviticus 23:15-22]. Determination of the time: From the second day of the Mazzoth seven Sabbaths were counted, i.e., forty-nine days. The following day, the fiftieth, is the feast of weeks (הַג שָׁבֻעֹת). The leading thought is the new oblation which was brought to Jehovah from the completed grain harvest. It was to be brought out of all dwellings, and thus not out of the regular temple revenues: two wave loaves of two-tenths (of an Ephah) of fine wheaten flour. The baked bread must be leavened, which shows that leaven does not, in and of itself, signify the evil (comp. Comm. on Matt. p. 197) [Leviticus 11:33, Am. Ed., p. 245]. This was the first-fruits of the whole grain harvest which must be hallowed to Jehovah before the bread from the new harvest might be eaten.” [This is not stated in the Text, and while it was undoubtedly true in regard to the wheat, must not be understood to include also the barley which it became lawful to use immediately after the offering of the wave sheaf during the feast of unleavened bread.—F. G.]. “The year has now become richer, and hence seven lambs must be offered for a burnt offering besides a young ox (bullock) and two rams, and with all these the proportionate drink offerings. Besides these there was a he-goat for the sin offering—hardly with reference to the unleavened bread (according to Keil, p. 151), but certainly with reference to the sins which were wont to accompany the harvesting.” [The precise remark of Keil, (trans. p. 443) is as follows: “The sin offering was to excite the feeling and consciousness of sin on the part of the congregation of Israel, that whilst eating their daily leavened bread they might not serve the leaven of their old nature, but seek and implore from the Lord their God the forgiveness and cleansing away of their sin.” It is to be observed that this sin offering was neither that required for a definite sin of the whole congregation, a bullock (Leviticus 4:14), nor yet that for an individual, a she-goat (ib. 28), but was the same as that required for a prince (ib. 23). The reason for it is to be sought, not in any especial and definite sin, but in that general and continual sinfulness which the chosen people were commanded to recognize on all occasions of especial solemnity.—F. G.]. “Finally two lambs as a peace offering, or thank offering, closed the feast. These peace offerings were waved with the loaves of first-fruits, i.e., were sanctified to Jehovah, and then fell to the priest. A principal direction for even this day is that it was proclaimed as a convocation of the sanctuary, and that on it even domestic work itself was forbidden as well as servile labor.” [The text however (Leviticus 23:21) contains only the prohibition of servile work. It is noticeable that this Pentecostal offering of two young rams was the only peace offering required of the whole congregation in the Mosaic ritual.—F. G.]. “With this memorable religious command is connected the humane one, that the reaper of the harvest must let some remain in the borders of the field, and that gleaning was forbidden in favor of the poor (comp. Ruth). It is plainly said again with this command: I am the Lord your God.” [This feast was not to be observed until ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and Theodoret (Qu. 32 in Lev.), says that it then “renewed the memory of the entrance into the land of promise.” Since Maimonides (see Lange above) it has been customary to connect it with the giving of the law. Neither of these associations, however, rest on any sure foundation. In Exodus 34:22 this festival is more particularly described, as indeed is implied here, as the first-fruits of the wheat harvest. The loaves differed from all ordinary oblations in being leavened, as an offering from the people’s daily bread to the Lord who had blessed the harvest (comp. Leviticus 2:11-12), but in accordance with the general law, they were not to be placed upon the altar. “The injunction out of your habitations is not to be understood, as Calvin and others suppose [so also Corn. a Lapide, and Lange above], as signifying that every householder was to present two such loaves; it simply expresses the idea, that they were to be loaves made for the daily food of a household, and not prepared expressly for holy purposes.” Keil. A moment’s reflection upon the immense mass of bread that would be required from the 600,000 men of Israel to be eaten only by the priests and their families, is sufficient to show that Keil’s explanation must be right. The victims to be offered, according to Leviticus 23:18-19, differ from those prescribed in Numbers 28:28-31 for the same occasion in two particulars: there is no mention there of the peace offerings required here (Leviticus 23:19), but this is merely a difference in the particularity of the command which frequently occurs; and there two young bullocks and one ram are required, while here it is one of the former and two of the latter, the offerings in all other respects being the same. On this account many commentators have supposed that the offerings in Num. were simply a festival enlargement of the daily burnt offering, while those here commanded were additional sacrifices accompanying the special rites of the festival. It can hardly, however, be considered a rash conjecture that in one place or the other the numerals may have changed places in the hands of the scribes. Josephus (Ant. iii. 10, 5) follows the statement in Num. Leviticus 23:19-20. The sin and peace offerings were to be waved. According to Jewish tradition this was accomplished by leading the animals backwards and forwards according to an established custom. With the waving of the sin offering comp. the waving of the leper’s trespass offering, Leviticus 14:12. The flesh of both these offerings, unlike the ordinary peace offerings, was to belong to the priest. Leviticus 23:21. On the selfsame day. The feast of weeks is distinguished from the two other great festivals in lasting but a single day; but it is said to have been the custom in later times to give a festal character to the six days following, and to continue to offer abundant sacrifices upon them. The feast is only described here as an holy convocation, and is called the feast of harvest in Exodus 23:16, the feast of weeks, of the first-fruits of wheat harvest,Exodus 34:22; Deuteronomy 16:10, day of the first-fruits Numbers 28:26. The name Pentecost belongs to a later time, and appears in the Apocrypha (Tob 2:1; 2Ma 12:32), and in the N. Test. (Acts 2:1; Acts 20:16; 1 Corinthians 16:8). By Jewish writers it is frequently called עֲצֶרֶת (see Text. Note 19 on Leviticus 23:36), Gr. Ἀσαρθά. As in nature the ripening of the later grain was connected with that of the earlier, so in the law the time of the festival for the one was made dependent upon that of the other; just as when the type was absorbed in the Antitype the descent of the Holy Ghost was dependent upon the Resurrection of Christ, the First-fruits from the dead on the morrow after the Sabbath of the Passover; and the commemoration festival of Whitsunday has ever been observed by the Christian Church in dependence upon Easter. In Leviticus 23:22 the command already given in Leviticus 19:9-10, is appropriately repeated in connection with the harvest feast, and this is again reiterated in Deuteronomy 24:19 in connection with precepts of kindness to the needy.
Leviticus 23:23-25. Here begins a fresh Divine communication (the third of this chapter) because the present feast was, like those of the first, to come into immediate use. Lange: “4. The feast of Trombones, or the new-moon feast of the seventh day of the first month.” [This is apparently a slip of the pen for the first day of the seventh month.—F. G.]. “The lesser new moon feasts are not mentioned here: they belong more to the ordinary life of the people and to the State (hence Numbers 28:11). Also the seventh new moon is here only very briefly mentioned, and significantly described as Sabbathon Zikron, as a feast Sabbath which was to be a Sabbath of memorial. The festal remembrance, however, had respect to the new holy season which dawned with the seventh month. Thus as the first feasts—Easter, Mazzoth, and First-fruits—form a trilogy, so the great new moon feast makes also a trilogy with the following Day of Atonement and Feast of Tabernacles. It is a feast of joyous sounds (תְּרוּעָח) to awaken a national festal disposition by means of a festival blowing, not however with ‘trumpets’ which were not ordered till Numbers 10:0, and with their clear piercing tone were fitted for the march of the army of God; but with the deep droning of horns, trombones, which like bells, rather affect deeply than arouse.” There is nothing said in the text of any instrument, see Textual Note 15 on Leviticus 23:24 : but as the silver trumpets were to be blown on all the new moons, and on all other festal occasions (Numbers 10:10), they must have been blown also on this new moon, whatever other instruments may have been used besides. “In the modern service of the Synagogue, Psalms 81:0 is used at the feast of Trumpets.” Clark. The general view of the Rabbinists is said to have been that it was a commemoration of the creation when “all the sons of God shouted for joy,” Job 38:7. Other commemorations, equally fanciful, have been proposed, but it is unnecessary to look beyond the fact that it was New Year’s day. This being a feast when it was not required that all the people should appear at the Sanctuary, the “holy convocation” was probably observed, like the weekly Sabbath, in each town and village throughout the land. Nevertheless a special burnt offering (Leviticus 23:25) was to be offered at the Sanctuary, and this is specified in Numbers 29:1-6, as consisting of a bullock, a ram, and seven lambs, with their oblations and drink offerings.
Leviticus 23:26-32. A new communication is made in regard to the Day of Atonement, not for the reasons given before, but to mark the importance of the day. This subject has been so fully treated in Leviticus 16:0 that little need be said here. It was on this day and not on the first of the month that the year of Jubilee was to be proclaimed (Leviticus 25:9). On this day also the people were not required to assemble at the Sanctuary, and the holy convocation must have been kept at their homes. Lange: “5. The Day of Atonement. It is a noticeable anomaly that it falls upon the tenth day. Ten is the number of the closed history, the reckoning up of the double five, the well-used or badly-used freedom, the number of judgment. The Day of Atonement forms the climax as a day of purification, Leviticus 16:0; here it is an introduction, a preliminary condition for the great feast of Tabernacles (this relation is shown by the אַךְ Leviticus 23:27.” [“By the restrictive אַךְ, the observance of the day of atonement is represented a priori as a peculiar one. The אַךְ refers less to the tenth day, than to the leading directions respecting this feast.” Keil]. Numbers 29:7 supplies still a third meaning, as a social or political fast day. It was named the day of expiation (הַכִּפֻרִים). Ye shall afflict your souls; Luther translates arbitrarily: ‘Ye shall afflict your body, mortify your body, mortify your bodies.’ Certainly from the expression of the original text, the fast is meant in Isaiah 58:3, etc. In order that the neglect might be visible and could be punished, and that the limits might be fixed, it is said: from even unto even. For this feast also, as well as the former one, every business (not only labor) was forbidden.” [This cannot be meant of the new moon of the seventh month, on which only servile work (Leviticus 23:25) was forbidden.—F. G.]. “The great rigor is to be noticed with which the penalty of death was threatened for every transgression against the rest of the Sabbath and against the fast.”
Leviticus 23:33-36. The ordinance for the feast of Tabernacles is given in a separate communication since this was not to be observed until the entrance into the land of Canaan. Lange: “6. The feast of Tabernacles (הַגּ הַסֻּכּוֹת). The feast is made prominent by being celebrated upon the 15th and not on the 14th day.” [Just as the feast of unleavened bread began on the 15th of the first month.—F. G.]. “And moreover, by being completed by an eighth day (עֲצֶרֶת), the closing festal assembly, see John 7:37.” [There is here also an analogy to the feast of unleavened bread, the seven days of which were preceded by the day of the Passover. In strictness the eighth day was not a part of the feast which, in Leviticus 23:34; Leviticus 23:40, is declared to be of seven days, and in Deuteronomy 16:13-15, and Ezekiel 45:25, there is no mention at all of the eighth day; and it is also distinguished from the days of the feast proper by the much smaller number of the victims to be offered in sacrifice, Numbers 29:36. Moreover on this day among the Hebrews the booths were dismantled and the people returned to their houses.—F. G.]. “The first and eighth days are holy Sabbaths which exclude every kind of work.” [The text, however, Leviticus 23:35-36, only forbids servile work.—F. G.]. “But everything else which distinguishes the feasts of the Lord, burnt offerings, oblations, etc., (Leviticus 23:37-38) distinguish this feast abundantly.” [These offerings are specified in Numbers 29:12-38. They consisted of a he-goat for a sin offering and a burnt offering on each day. The latter included two rams and fourteen lambs on each of the days, with a varying number of bullocks. Beginning with thirteen on the first day, they were diminished by one on each successive day, until on the seventh only seven were offered. The burnt offering of the eighth day was only one bullock, one ram, and seven lambs. In all seventy-one bullocks were wholly consumed upon the altar, together with fifteen rams and one hundred and five lambs.—F. G.]. “It is also again a double feast: in the first place the feast of the garnered harvest, the third harvest, which includes both the former ones, and especially hallows to the Lord the noblest produce of the land: the inspiriting fruits, for the children (fruit), for the old (wine), and for the priests (oil).” [The fruit, the oil, and the wine, were however all alike used by all classes in the community.—F. G.]. “And then, in the second place, it was the feast of the memorial of the booths in which Israel had dwelt in the wilderness. The sojourn in the wilderness must have been a hardship during a great part of the year, and they usually dwelt in tents; but then came the Spring and Summer time, when they could build booths, and such a time would be particularly festive, a picture of a paradisaical life of nature. And it is plain that here the subject must be neither the lasting sufferings of the wilderness nor the settlement in Canaan. Hence also the tents must be made from goodly trees.” [The feast of Tabernacles did not itself occur in the Spring or Summer, but late in the fall. a month or more after the autumnal equinox. No evidence is adduced to show that the Israelites in the wilderness at any time lived otherwise than in tents, and indeed during a large part of their wanderings the construction of booths would have been impossible from the scarcity of trees. The reference to the booths (succoth) seems to be rather to the first encampments of the Exodus (comp. Exodus 12:37; Exodus 13:20), when they must have been as yet very imperfectly supplied with tents.—F. G.]. “So the feast of tabernacles was the highest feast in Israel (a bright contrast to the feast of Purim introduced afterwards, which was darkened by fanaticism), and was a type of the highest and most beautiful Christian popular feasts. Upon the single feast comp. the Lexicons, also Keil (p. 153 [Trans. p. 446]), and Knobel (p. 549). That this feast could readily bring in peculiar temptations is shown by the story of the adulteress, John 8:0.” [This inference must depend upon the decision that the passage referred to is a genuine part of the Gospel, and is found in its proper place. It is also further to be noticed that the women of Israel were not required to dwell in the booths.—F. G.]. “But we may see also partially from John 7:0, how it had been in the course of time endowed with the richest symbolism, as a preacher-feast, as a fountain-feast, as a feast of lights, the culmination of the Old Testament festival seasons.” [It is noticeable that this feast was the time chosen by Solomon for the dedication of the temple, 1 Kings 8:2.—F. G.].
“Upon the observance of the line of feasts in the sabbatical year and year of Jubilee, see Leviticus 25:0. On the later Jewish feasts, see Bibl. Wörterbuch für das Christl. Volk under the article Feste. So too the feasts of the later Jews in Herzog’s Real-Encyclopädie.” For additional matter concerning this feast, see under verses 39–42.
In Leviticus 23:37-38, is a summary distinctly specifying that these appointed times, with their offerings, are additional to the weekly Sabbaths mentioned in Leviticus 23:3, and their offerings. Beside the Sabbaths is comprehensive, including both the day and the sacrifice offered upon it. It means beside them in regard to the other appointed days, and beside their offerings as regards the offerings belonging to these.
Leviticus 23:39-43 contain additional directions for the feast of Tabernacles. Nothing has been said in the previous verses of the dwelling in booths, as the object there was only to treat of it as an appointed time with its days of holy convocation. Here, however, this is introduced by itself, as a necessary direction, yet so as not to disturb the singleness of view in which the whole cycle of feasts has been presented. There is no occasion, therefore, to suppose that this is a distinct document subsequently added. As this precept has reference simply to the dwelling in booths, there is no repetition of the command for the holy convocations, or for the sacrifices, and no mention of the eighth day, on which they returned to their houses. It was pre-eminently a joyous festival (Leviticus 23:40), as comported with its character as a harvest feast. On the Sabbatical year at this time the law was to be publicly read in the hearing of all the people of all classes, including the “strangers,” Deuteronomy 31:9-13; Nehemiah 8:18.
In later times two significant customs were added to the daily observances of the feast. At the time of the morning sacrifice on each day a priest drew water from the pool of Siloam in a golden pitcher and bringing it in to the altar poured it out with the libation of wine. This probably suggested the words of our Lord in John 7:37-38. Also in the evening the men and women assembled together in the court of the women to rejoice over the ceremony of the morning, the occasion being marked by great hilarity. At this time two tall stands were set up in the court, each bearing four lamps of large size, the wicks being made of the cast off garments of the priests, and the oil supplied by the sons of the priests. Many of the people also carried flambeaux, and the light is said to have been cast over nearly the whole city. This ceremony seems to have called forth our Lord’s words in John 8:12, “I am the Light of the world.” During both these ceremonies the choirs of Levites chanted appropriate psalms, and the people participated by carrying in their hands green branches and fruit. There is a curious contrast between the cycle of annual festivals in the Jewish and in the Christian Church; in both of them the festivals extend through about six months, but in the former, in which earthly blessings are everywhere prominent, it began with the 14th Nisan, and extended through the summer; in the latter, in which the thought is more directed to spiritual blessings, it begins with the early winter and extends round to the summer.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
I. The weekly Sabbath is the beginning and foundation of all the festivals, for herein God is acknowledged as the Creator of all things and of man. By that the people were joined to God, and so made ready for keeping the other festivals of His appointment. This was fixed for the older church upon the seventh day, in memorial of their deliverance from Egypt, the era of their national existence; just as for the Christian Church it is fixed upon the first day in memorial of Christ’s resurrection, on which rests the whole existence and constitution of that Church.
II. By the offering of the first-fruits to God the whole harvest was sanctified, comp. Romans 11:16. Until this had been done, no Israelite might partake of the harvest at all. God’s gifts are freely bestowed upon men; but they may not lawfully appropriate them to their own use until they have acknowledged the Giver.
III. In the three harvest festivals the dominion of God over nature is emphatically asserted. It is asserted in opposition alike to that Pantheism which underlay so much of the ancient heathen mythology, and which would worship the earth itself as the giver of its fruits, while here the homage is rendered to the Lord of the earth as distinct from and infinitely exalted above the earth; and it is asserted in opposition to Deism, which would so separate the Deity from His works as to make them in a sense independent of Him, while here He is recognized as their immediate Ruler and the Author of every earthly blessing.
IV. Leaven, which is for the most part forbidden in oblations, and altogether prohibited from coming upon the altar, is here commanded for the wave offering of the first-fruits of the wheat harvest, very plainly for the express object of teaching that the ordinary food of the people is to be sanctified by an offering to God, and thus in all things He is first of all to be recognized.
V. The peculiarity of a peace offering from the whole congregation marks the Pentecostal feast alone. At the beginning of the wheat harvest, the principal harvest of human food, it was peculiarly appropriate that it should be marked by the sacrifice of communion with God.
VI. In connection with the feast of the harvest comes again into prominence the care for the poor in the prohibition of gleaning. God leaves the poor always with us that man may learn through them to imitate Himself in giving freely to those who need out of the abundance He has given to us.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Lange: “The feasts of the Lord and the festal ordinances (Leviticus 23:0). Their double basis: 1) the work, 2) the Sabbath. The Sabbath is the end of the trouble of labor, as Sunday is the beginning of festal work. The Old Testament feasts in the light of the New Testament. The Jewish Passover is a double feast; a type of Christmas and of Easter. The Jewish and the Christian Pentecostal feast. The Jewish feast of Atonement and the Christian Ascension-Day (comp. Hebrews 9:24). The Jewish feast of Tabernacles and the Christian harvest feast. The threefold Jewish harvest feast, Easter, Pentecost and Tabernacles, a threefold type of the Divine blessing in the kingdom of nature, and in the kingdom of grace (the first-fruits, the daily bread, the festival wine). The great Day of Atonement, as a day of repentance, and as a day of the Gospel. Comparison between the Day of Atonement and Good-Friday, between Christmas and the feast of Tabernacles. How all feasts by their historical significance are linked with one another, and by their spiritual significance play into one another. The feast is made gay with green boughs.”
As the Sabbath is made the foundation of all festivals, so must the sanctification of the weekly day of rest ever be the condition of all acceptable consecration of “appointed times” to the Lord. The days on which no work at all might be done are only the weekly Sabbaths and the Day of Atonement; but the additional days on which no servile work might be done were nearly half as many more. These last therefore were days of rest to the slave and the hired laborer. The law would have days when the hard labor of life must cease without suspending its activity altogether, and gives its most numerous days of rest to those who must be employed in life’s drudgery.
The rejoicing before the Lord which is here, Leviticus 23:40, and in Deuteronomy 16:11 commanded with especial reference to the feasts of Tabernacles and of Pentecost, is elsewhere made into a more general duty, Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 27:7. If joy was a commanded duty under the Old Dispensation, how much more under the Christian. See Philippians 4:4, etc.
The three great festivals were occasions of gathering all the males of Israel together, and promoting the sense of their common brotherhood. The effect in this regard of united worship is very plain. But especially at the feast of Tabernacles, all were required to dwell in booths, and for the time distinctions of rank and social position were levelled. Thus, as everywhere under the Old Dispensation, principles of the Gospel were taught by symbolical acts, and the brotherhood of all the people of God presented in sensible type and act.
Leviticus 23:2; Leviticus 23:2. The word מועֵד according to all authorities means primarily a fixed, appointed time (Genesis 21:2; Jeremiah 8:7, etc.) and it is so translated in Leviticus 23:4 in their seasons. Thence it came to be used for the festivals occurring at set times (Zechariah 8:19). Besides these meanings the word has the divided signification of the assembly which came together at these times, and then the assembly or congregation generally (whence the expression Tabernacle of congregation), and then also the place of the assembly. The derivative significations are here out of the question. It occurs in this chapter five times, and is not elsewhere used in Lev. except in the phrase Tabernacle of congregation. With the same exception, it is uniformly translated time or season (set or appointed) in Gen. and Ex., and generally in Num. The translation four times by feasts in this chap. is therefore exceptional and supported only by a few instances in Num. It is better therefore to conform the translation here to the usage. There is a difficulty with either translation in the fact that a holy convocation was not proclaimed on the Day of Atonement;—that is broadly applied to all, which was strictly true of nearly all the particulars mentioned. But feasts labors under the further disadvantage that the Day of atonement was a fast.
Leviticus 23:3; Leviticus 23:3. The translation necessarily fails to convey the full force of the Heb. שַׁכַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן a very strong expression used only of the days and years of rest appointed in the Mosaic legislation.
Leviticus 23:4; Leviticus 23:4. The Heb. has אֵלֶּה, the Sam. prefixes ו. According to Houbigant the former refers to what has preceded, the latter to what follows. In this case the Sam. reading is preferable.
Leviticus 23:5; Leviticus 23:5. The missing יוֹם is supplied in 15 MSS. and the Sam.
Leviticus 23:7; Leviticus 23:7. “מְלֶאכֶת עֲבֹדהָ, occupation of a work, signifies labor 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, etc.; whilst מְלָאכָה is the performance of any kind of work, e.g., kindling fire for cooking food (Exodus 35:2-3).” Keil.
Leviticus 23:10; Leviticus 23:10. עֹמֶר. The A. V. is probably right in translating here sheaf, which according to the lexicographers is the primary meaning of the word. See Deuteronomy 24:19; Ruth 2:7; Ruth 2:15, etc. It is so translated by the LXX., Vulg., and Luther, as well as by Gesen., Fürst, Lee, and others. On the other hand Josephus (Ant. iii. 10, 5), and the Mishna, take it in its de rived and more usual sense of an Omer, viz., of the flour from the grain, offered with oil and frankincense as an oblation. Perhaps in later times the omer of the flour was substituted for the original sheaf of the grain.
Leviticus 23:12; Leviticus 23:12. כֶּבֶשׂ. See Textual Note 5 on Leviticus 3:7. Here the sex is indicated.
Leviticus 23:13; Leviticus 23:13. מִנְחָתוֹ. See Textual Note 2 on Leviticus 2:1. The pronoun is masc. with reference to the sex of the sacrifice.
Leviticus 23:13; Leviticus 23:13. The A. V. here and in the previous clause substitutes the def. art. for the masc. pronoun. The Heb, text נִסְכּה is pointed in accordance with the k’ri נסכו which is also the Sam. reading.
Leviticus 23:15; Leviticus 23:15. Some critics (Keil, Clark, and others) would render here and in Leviticus 25:8 seven weeks, in accordance with the use of שַׁבָּת in the Talmud, and of σάββατον in the N. T. The word seems to be used here, however, rather by a figure of speech as in Leviticus 25:2; Leviticus 25:4, etc., and the definite meaning of week to be of later origin. The תְּמִימֹת on which Keil relies, agrees with the main idea.
Leviticus 23:17; Leviticus 23:17. The Sam. here supplies the word חַלּוֹת which is uniformly translated cakes in the A. V., and may indicate the kind of bread used.
Leviticus 23:18; Leviticus 23:18 אֵילִם indicates strong and full-grown rams of maturer age than the כְּבָשׂים of the first clause. The Sam. 3 MSS. and LXX. add “without blemish.”
Leviticus 23:19; Leviticus 23:19. שְׂעִיר־עִזִּים. See Textual Note21 on Leviticus 4:23.
Leviticus 23:24; Leviticus 23:24. שַׁבָּתוֹן here stands by itself without the שַׁבָּת used in Leviticus 23:3. When thus used by itself Rosenmüller says “de iis tantum feriis dicitur, quæ non in septimum hebdomadis diem, qui שַׁבָּת, cessatio ab opere κατ’ ἐξοχὴν dicitur, incidit.” It should therefore be rendered by another term, and the one suggested by Clark is adopted.
Leviticus 23:24; Leviticus 23:24. There is nothing in the Heb. corresponding to the words of trumpets, which should therefore be in italics. The Heb. reads simply זִכְרוֹן תְּרוּעָה = a memorial of a joyful noise. תְּרוּעָה is frequently used in connection with various kinds of trumpets and other instruments (Numbers 31:6; Leviticus 25:9; Psalms 150:5), denoting the clangor of those instruments, but it is also quite as frequently used without reference to an instrument of any kind (Numbers 23:21; Job 8:21; Job 33:26; Ezra 3:11; Ezra 3:13, etc.). The silver trumpets of the temple were however blown on all the festivals, including the new moons (Numbers 10:10), and there is no reason to question the tradition that on “the feast of trumpets” horns or cornets of some kind were blown generally throughout the land. The LXX. has μνημόσυνον σαλπίγγων, the Vulg. memoriale clangentibus tubis.
Leviticus 23:27; Leviticus 23:27. אַךְ is a particle of limitation, and thus in this case of emphasis. It is better to omit the italicised words there shall be, and translate according to the usual construction of a Heb. clause ending with הוּא.
Leviticus 23:32; Leviticus 23:32. The word בָּעֶרֶב = at even is omitted in one MS., LXX., and Vulg.
Leviticus 23:32; Leviticus 23:32. The margin of the A. V. is more correct than the text. The Heb. is תִּשְׁבְּתוּ שַׁבַּתְּכֶם.
Leviticus 23:36; Leviticus 23:36. עֲצֶרֶב is a word the signification of which has been much questioned. The translation of the LXX. ἐξόδίόν ἐστι, meaning the close of the festival, is defended by Fürst, and adopted by Patrick; so also Theodoret, referring not only to this feast, but to the whole cycle of feasts, τὸ τέλος τῶν ἑορτῶν, and so also Keil. Michaelis, using an Arabic etymology, interprets it of pressing out the grapes. The sense of the margin of the A. V. day of restraint is said to be advocated by Iken in a special dissertation (Con. Ikenii Dissertatt. Ludg. Batav. 1749) and is adopted by Abarbanel and other Jewish writers. The text of the A. V. assembly is defended by Rosenmüller (3d Ed.), advocated by Gesenius, and is that given by onkeios, the Vulg., and Syr. The LXX. also elsewhere translates the word πανήγυρις (Amos 5:2) and σύνοδος (Jeremiah 9:2). The word occurs but ten times, in five of which it refers to the last day of one of the great feasts, and in one other (Jeremiah 9:2 ) it clearly means assembly. Josephus (Ant. iii. 10, 6) applies it as a customary phrase to the feast of Pentecost. It is the day referred to in John 7:37 as “the last day, that great day of the feast.”
Leviticus 23:39; Leviticus 23:39. בְּאָסְפְכֶם. It is better to preserve the indefiniteness of the original which does not determine whether the harvest was already fully gathered. Clark thinks that this could rarely have been the case.
Leviticus 23:40; Leviticus 23:40. The Heb., as noted in the margin of the A. V., is fruit, and it is better to retain the word even if it be explained (Keil) of “the shoots and branches of the trees.” According to the most ancient traditions, however, it was customary at this feast to carry in one hand some fruit, and the word is retained in all the ancient versions.
Leviticus 23:40; Leviticus 23:40. עֵץ הָדָר, lit. ornamental trees, a generic word including the various kinds specified just below. So the Sam., LXX., Syr., and Vulg., the lexicons, and most interpreters. Jewish tradition, however, incorporated into the Targums and Josephus (Ant. xiii. 13, 5) understands it specifically of the Citron.
Leviticus 23:40; Leviticus 23:40. עֵץ־עָבֹת. The rendering of the A. V. is sustained by almost all authorities, meaning trees of various kinds having thick foliage. The Targums all interpret it specifically of myrtles, which cannot be right, as in the account of the celebration of this feast in Nehemiah 8:15 the myrtle and the thick trees are distinguished.
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Leviticus 23". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30