Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. It. The land where Moses was speaking, which had been already conquered, was no less under the obligation of paying the first-fruits, &c., than Chanaan, and the parts of Syria which were promised to the Israelites. (Haydock) — All the products of the earth seem to have been liable to be offered, (Matthew xxiii. 23,) in proportion as they ripened, at the feasts of the Passover and of Pentecost, (Calmet) and of tabernacles. (Menochius) — Yet we find no mention here of the therumah, or offering, of which the Rabbins speak so much, as distinct at least from the first-fruits, which were heaved both by the priest and the offerer towards heaven and earth, on the right and left hand. Each (Calmet) landholder, (Haydock) and even the king himself, was bound to bring his own basket to the temple, and to recite the words here prescribed. The wheat and barley were first winnowed, and the grapes and olives made into wine and oil. Before the offering was made to the Lord, no one was allowed to taste any of the produce, Leviticus xxiii. 10., and Numbers xviii. 12, &c. Whether legumes were to be tithed, seems a matter of dispute. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. The Syrian. Laban. See Genesis xxvii. (Challoner) — Hebrew, “My father was a Syrian, poor, (or ready to perish) and he went down,” &c. The ancestors of Jacob had, in effect, come from beyond the Euphrates, and he had dwelt in Mesopotamia for twenty years. But the translation of the Septuagint seems preferable, “My father abandoned (apebalen) Syria.” (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Terror. Septuagint, “with surprising visions,” (Hebrew) or “with astonishing prodigies,” &c. (Calmet)
Ver. 10. God, with profound humility, acknowledging that all comes from him, (Haydock) and praying for a continuance of his fatherly protection. (Menochius)
Ver. 11. Feast. The Jews could not yet be required with propriety to raise themselves to delights purely spiritual, chap. xii. 7. Strabo (x.) observes, that the Greeks and barbarians accompanied their sacrifices with feasting and music, which served to take off their thoughts from earthly concerns, and gave them a sort of foretaste of the divinity. (Calmet)
Ver. 12. Third. It has been remarked (chap. xiv. 28., and Leviticus xxvii. 30,) that the Jews gave two tithes every year, the second was for feasts at Jerusalem, or on the third year, at home, if there was not also a third tithe due on that year. (Haydock)
Ver. 13. Taken. Hebrew, “burnt.” (Calmet) — I have brought all that was due, (Tirinus) so that no more can be found in my house than what the fire would have spared, if it had been thrown into it.
Ver. 14. Mourning. It was then unlawful to taste what was set apart for the Lord, and even to touch a thing, at that time, would render it unclean, Osee ix. 4. Others explain it thus: I have not eaten, how much soever I was distressed; or, I eat it with a cheerful heart. But these interpretations seem unnatural. Spencer (Rit. ii. 24,) thinks rather that the Jews thus disclaim having given any worship to Isis, whom the Egyptians invoked after the harvest, with mournful cries. (Diod. Sic. i.) About the same season of the year, lamentations were also made for the death of Adonis, (Marcel. xxii.) and for that of Osiris. (Firminus.) — The Phœnicians mourned in like manner for the desolate appearance of the earth, after the fruits were collected. The Egyptians thought that Isis had discovered fruits and corn, and therefore offered the first-fruits to her. But the Jews are here taught to refer all such favours to God alone, and they testify that they have taken no part in the superstitious rites of other nations, nor spent any thing in funerals. Hebrew, “upon the dead;” Osiris, &c., here styled uncleanness, by way of contempt. (Calmet)
Ver. 16. This day. In this last solemn harangue of Moses, the covenant between God and his people was ratified. (Menochius)
Ver. 19. To his own praise. Hebrew, Septuagint, &c., “higher…in praise, reputation, and glory.” (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The form of words with which the first-fruits and tithes are to be offered. God’s covenant.
1 And when thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God will give thee to possess, and hast conquered it, and dwellest in it:
2 Thou shalt take the first of all thy fruits, and put them in a basket, and shalt go to the place which the Lord thy God shall choose, that his name may be invocated there:
3 And thou shalt go to the priest that shall be in those days, and say to him: I profess this day before the Lord thy God, that I am come into the land, for which he swore to our fathers, that he would give it us.
4 And the priest taking the basket at thy hand, shall set it before the altar of the Lord thy God:
5 And thou shalt speak thus in the sight of the Lord thy God: The Syrian pursued my father, who went down into Egypt, and sojourned there in a very small number, and grew into a nation great and strong, and of an infinite multitude.
6 And the Egyptians afflicted us, and persecuted us, laying on us most grievous burdens:
7 And we cried to the Lord God of our fathers: who heard us, and looked down upon our affliction, and labour, and distress:
8 And brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand, and a stretched-out arm, with great terror, with signs and wonders:
9 And brought us into this place, and gave us this land, flowing with milk and honey.
10 And therefore now I offer the first-fruits of the land, which the Lord hath given me. And thou shalt leave them in the sight of the Lord thy God, adoring the Lord thy God.
11 And thou shalt feast in all the good things which the Lord thy God hath given thee, and thy house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is with thee.
12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all thy fruits, in the third year of tithes, thou shalt give it to the Levite, and to the stranger, and to the fatherless, and to the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled:
13 And thou shalt speak thus in the sight of the Lord thy God: *I have taken that which was sanctified out of my house, and I have given it to the Levite, and to the stranger, and to the fatherless, and to the widow, as thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, nor forgotten thy precepts.
14 I have not eaten of them in my mourning, nor separated them for any uncleanness, nor spent any thing of them in funerals. I have obeyed the voice of the Lord my God, and have done all things as thou hast commanded me.
15 *Look from thy sanctuary, and thy high habitation of heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou didst swear to our fathers, a land flowing with milk and honey.
16 This day the Lord thy God hath commanded thee to do these commandments and judgments: and to keep and fulfil them, with all thy heart, and with all thy soul.
17 Thou hast chosen the Lord this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and keep his ceremonies, and precepts, and judgments, and obey his command.
18 *And the Lord hath chosen thee this day, to be his peculiar people, as he hath spoken to thee, and to keep all his commandments:
19 And to make thee higher than all nations which he hath created, to his own praise, and name, and glory: that thou mayst be a holy people of the Lord thy God, as he hath spoken.
13: Deuteronomy xiv. 29.
15: Isaias lxiii. 15.; Baruch ii. 16.
18: Deuteronomy vii. 6.