Chapter 26

DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 26

Giving the Firstfruits

        • When you have entered into the land the Lord your God is giving to you as your inheritance, conquered it, and settled there, you are to put some of the first crops produced from your land in a basket and bring it to the place the Lord your God has chosen for His name to dwell.

          • Guzik writes, “Numbers 18:12 speaks of the firstfruits that must be regularly brought to the priests, but the firstfruits described here in Deuteronomy 26 seem to be a special offering of firstfruits, from the first of the harvest they gain in the Promised Land.”

        • Go to the priest who is serving at that time and say, “Today I acknowledge to the Lord my God that I have entered into the land that He swore to our ancestors He would give us.” The priest will take your basket and put it before the altar of the Lord your God. Then, you must say the following, there in the presence of the Lord your God:

        • My ancestor (Jacob) was a wandering Aramean who went down to live in Egypt with a few people. While living in Egypt, he became a great, powerful, and numerous nation. When the Egyptians mistreated and oppressed us, forcing us to be their slaves, we called out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors. He heard our cries and saw our misery, hardship, and oppression. Then, He brought us out of Egypt by His strong hand and powerful arm, with terrifying power, and with miraculous signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this land flowing with milk and honey. Now Lord, I have brought You the first produce You have given me from the land.

          • HCSB notes, “The father (ancestor) referred to here is not Abraham, a native of Ur, but Jacob. He was a Aramean in the sense that he had lived in Aram (Syria) for 20 years, gained a family there, and left for Egypt shortly after he had returned to Canaan.”

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “Jacob’s mother (Rebekah) was an Aramean (Genesis 24:10; 25:20, 26), and Jacob also lived in Aram for many years (Genesis 31:41-42). His lifestyle was semi-nomadic (wandering).”

          • Guzik writes, “This wonderful confession of thanks remembered the history of Israel from the time of Jacob and his family in the land of Canaan, to the family’s going down into Egypt, and to the eventual deliverance and Exodus into the Promised Land…This was the major reason God had for sending Jacob and his family on their sojourn in Egypt. When they lived in Canaan, there was great risk of the family just assimilating with the wicked, pagan peoples around them. To prevent this, and to allow the nation to grow, God sent them down to Egypt, which was a very racist society, and who would not intermarry with Israel. Therefore, they could go down there few in number; and there he became a nation, great, mighty, and populous.”

        • Then, you will put the basket before the Lord your God and bow down to Him. Afterward, you, the Levites, and the foreigners living among you will rejoice in all the good things the Lord your God has given to you and your household.

The Tenth in the Third Year

        • Every third year, the year of the tenth, after you have set aside all the tenth of your produce, you are to give it to the Levites, foreigners who live among you, orphans, and widows so that they will have enough to eat. Then you must say in the presence of the Lord:

        • I have taken the sacred portion out of my house and have given it to the Levites, foreigners who live among us, orphans, and widows just as You have commanded me. I haven’t violated or forgotten any of Your commands. I haven’t eaten any of this portion while in mourning, I haven’t handled any of it while I was ceremonially unclean, nor have I offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the Lord my God and done everything You have commanded me. Look down from the holy place You live in heaven, and bless Your people Israel and the land You swore to our ancestors You would give to us- a land flowing with milk and honey.

          • Guzik writes, “The tithe was required of Israel every year, but every third year, the tithe was given not only to the Levites for their support (as was instructed in Numbers 18:21-24), but was to be shared by the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, so they may eat within your gates and be filled.”

          • What does it mean that Israel is not to offer any of this tithe to the dead? Many scholars see this as a reference to the ancient Near Eastern Baal cycle. The NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible notes, “In this instruction, it is possible to see a reference to giving a part of one’s tithe to Baal, the ‘Dead One,’ who, however, was purportedly resurrected again and again in the spring according to the fertility rites recorded in the Ugaritic Baal Cycle. This is also, of course, a reference to the fact that a funerary cult was to be avoided that involved feeding, nourishing and communicating with the dead of a family…”

 

“The Baal Cycle is a Ugaritic cycle of stories about the Canaanite god Ba’al (lit. “Owner”, “Lord”), a storm god associated with fertility. The text identifies him as the god Hadad, the Northwest Semitic form of Adad. The stories are written in Ugaritic, a Northwest Semitic language written in a cuneiform consonantal alphabet, on a series of clay tablets found in the 1920s in the Tell of Ugarit (modern Ras Shamra), situated on the Mediterranean coast of northern Syria, a few kilometers north of the modern city of Latakia, far ahead of the now known coast. The stories include The Myth of Baʿal Aliyan and The Death of Baʿal.” (wikipedia)

Covenant Summary/Exhortation to Obey (26:16-19)

        • Today, the Lord your God is commanding you to follow all these statutes and ordinances. You must be careful to follow them with all of your heart and soul. Today, you have declared that the Lord is your God and you will walk in His ways and obey His statutes, commands, and ordinances. Also, today the Lord has declared that you are His special people, just as He promised, and that you are to obey all of His commands. He will put you above all the the nations He has made. You will receive praise, fame, and glory. You will be a holy people to the Lord your God just as He has promised.

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