The central law code closes with the offering of first fruits and contains a pithy summary of the people’s history.
The offering of the first fruits of the seven species of the land – wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives (as oil) and dates (as honey) – was to be presented before the The high priest was the most powerful priest in the temple in Jerusalem. The high priest Caiaphas held the office during the trial of Jesus. Later, in the New Testament book of Hebrews, the role of merciful high priest is ascribed to the resurrected Jesus. More at the central worship site (Jerusalem) (Deuteronomy 26:3, Leviticus 23:10). This offering was presented at some time between Shavuot (Pentecost was originally a Jewish harvest or pilgrimage festival that fell on the fiftieth day after Passover. It was during this festival that the Holy Spirit visited Jesus' followers in tongues of fire and caused them to speak in many languages, as reported in Acts... More/Weeks) and Sukkot (Booths/Tabernacles) as the species were collected. In some years, the offering would be presented during Shavuot, in other years, later. This offering of first fruit is distinct from the tithes (Deuteronomy 14:22-29), and is related to, but not identical with Shavuot (Numbers 28:26 assumes that first fruits will fall within the Festival of Weeks).
Essentially a festival celebrating the wheat harvest (Deuteronomy 16:9-12), at this time each Israelite was required to bring the first fruits of the harvest to the A sanctuary is the consecrated area around the altar of a church or temple. It also means a place of safety where one can flee for protection. In the Old Testament, especially in the Psalms, God is referred to as a sanctuary, a refuge from... More to thank God for the land they have been given “as an inheritance to possess” (26:1) and to testify that God’s promise to Abraham had been realized. Embedded within the ceremony is a marvelous historical summary recited by the worshiper (vv. 5-9) in which three decisive moments in their history, resulting in their possession of the land, are recalled:
- The first section is famously difficult to translate. 26:5 may be variously translated as “My father was a wandering Aramean” or “An Aramean [tried to] destroy my father.” The text may recall Abraham’s sojourn in the land and journey down to Egypt. Alternatively, The son of Isaac and Rebekah, renamed Israel, became the father of the twelve tribal families More could be the wandering Aramean. Though certainly he was less of an Aramean than his grandfather, Jacob did move his direct descendants to Egypt, as in the next clause. This passage may alternatively be read as saying that Rebekah's brother, Jacob's uncle and father-in-law, Rachel and Leah's father More the Aramean abused Jacob during his stay in Paddan Aram. In any case, the Israelites prospered initially in Egypt, as verse 5 describes.
- Second is Israel’s experience of slavery in Egypt and the miraculous response to their cries of distress when God delivered them “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (vv. 6-8).
- Third is the gift of the land of Canaan, which God promised to God promised that Abraham would become the father of a great nation, receive a land, and bring blessing to all nations. More (v. 9).
The gifts brought by the worshiper provide incontrovertible proof of the productivity of the “land flowing with milk and honey,” which becomes the basis of the worshiper’s thanksgiving.
This testimony, offered by the worshiper, has sometimes been seen as Israel’s earliest creed, an outline of Israel’s history of salvation, and the backbone of Genesis through Joshua. Such claims are usually regarded as extreme these days. Nevertheless, the annual celebration of God’s gift of the land, the fulfillment of the promise to Abraham, remains a compelling articulation of Israel’s faith.