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People's Dictionary of the Bible


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First-fruits. As the first-born of men and firstlings of beasts, so the first-fruits of the increase of the land were regarded as holy to the Lord. Romans 8:23; Romans 11:16; 1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Corinthians 16:15; James 1:18; Revelation 14:4. One remarkable provision of the law was that the Hebrews must not for three years touch the produce of any fruit-tree they planted. The fourth year of bearing it was consecrated as the first-fruits to the Lord, Leviticus 19:23-25; in the fifth year it was free for the owner's use. This rule is not supposed to have applied to the trees the people found on entering Palestine. There were general commands as to the offering of the first fruits, Exodus 22:29; Exodus 23:19; Exodus 34:26, and also specified times when such offerings were to be publicly made. The first-fruits of the harvest in the sheaf were to be presented at the feast of the passover, on the morrow after the sabbath. Leviticus 23:9-14. Till this was done, no harvest-work was to be proceeded with. At the feast of pentecost the first-fruits of the completed Harvest in the shape of two loaves made of the new flour were to be presented. Exodus 34:22; Leviticus 23:15-17; Numbers 28:26. Besides these public and national oblations, there were others of a more private and individual kind. Such were the first-fruits of the dough, Numbers 16:20-21; and of the threshing-floor, which Jewish writers distinguish into two kinds, the first including wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and figs; the second oil, wine, and other produce which supported human life, also the first of the fleece and the hair of goats. No rule was laid down in scripture as to the proportion the offered first-fruits ought to bear to the whole produce; but one-sixtieth is said to be the least; sometimes one-fortieth or one-thirtieth part was presented. The address which the offerer was to make to God is prescribed in Deuteronomy 26:1-11. Doubtless in times of national declension less regard would be paid to the law of the first-fruits; but we find that during the various reforms they flowed in abundantly. 2 Chronicles 31:5; Nehemiah 10:35; Nehemiah 10:37; comp. Ezekiel 20:40 to Ezekiel 48:14. The first-fruits generally became the portion of the priests and Levites, to be eaten by them and their famines. Numbers 18:12; Deuteronomy 18:4; Ezekiel 44:30. In Israel after the schism they were sometimes offered to the prophets. 2 Kings 4:42.

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Bibliography Information
Rice, Edwin Wilbur, DD. Entry for 'First-Fruits'. People's Dictionary of the Bible. 1893.

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Saturday, November 28th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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