Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
FEAST OF THE
1. Observe the month of Abib--or first-fruits. It comprehended the
latter part of our March and the beginning of April. Green ears of the
barley, which were then full, were offered as first-fruits, on the
second day of the passover.
for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee out of Egypt by
night--This statement is apparently at variance with the prohibition
as well as with the recorded fact that their departure took place in
But it is susceptible of easy reconciliation. Pharaoh's permission, the
first step of emancipation, was extorted during the night, the
preparations for departure commenced, the rendezvous at Rameses made,
and the march entered on in the morning.
2. Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the passover--not the paschal
lamb, which was strictly and properly the passover. The whole solemnity
is here meant, as is evident from the mention of the additional victims
that required to be offered on the subsequent days of the feast
(Nu 28:18, 19;
2Ch 35:8, 9),
and from the allusion to the continued use of unleavened bread for
seven days, whereas the passover itself was to be eaten at once. The
words before us are equivalent to "thou shalt observe the feast of the
3. seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread--a sour, unpleasant,
unwholesome kind of bread, designed to be a memorial of their Egyptian
misery and of the haste with which they departed, not allowing time for
their morning dough to ferment.
5, 6. Thou mayest not sacrifice the passover within any of thy
gates--The passover was to be observed nowhere but in the court of
the tabernacle or temple, as it was not a religious feast or
sacramental occasion merely, but an actual sacrifice
(Ex 12:27; 23:18; 34:25).
The blood had to be sprinkled on the altar and in the place where the
true Passover was afterwards to be sacrificed for us "at even, at the
going down of the sun"--literally, "between the evenings."
6. at the season--that is, the month and day, though not perhaps
the precise hour. The immense number of victims that had to be
immolated on the eve of the passover--that is, within a space of four
hours--has appeared to some writers a great difficulty. But the large
number of officiating priests, their dexterity and skill in the
preparation of the sacrifices, the wide range of the court, the
extraordinary dimensions of the altar of burnt offering and orderly
method of conducting the solemn ceremonial, rendered it easy to do that
in a few hours, which would otherwise have required as many days.
7. thou shalt roast and eat
thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents--The sense
of this passage, on the first glance of the words, seems to point to
the morning after the first day--the passover eve. Perhaps, however,
the divinely appointed duration of this feast, the solemn character and
important object, the journey of the people from the distant parts of
the land to be present, and the recorded examples of their continuing
all the time
(2Ch 30:21 35:17),
(though these may be considered extraordinary, and therefore
exceptional occasions), may warrant the conclusion that the leave given
to the people to return home was to be on the morning after the
completion of the seven days.
9-12. Seven weeks shalt thou number--The feast of weeks, or a
WEEK OF WEEKS: the feast of pentecost (see on
As on the second day of the passover a sheaf of new barley, reaped on
purpose, was offered, so on the second day of pentecost a sheaf of new
wheat was presented as first-fruits
a freewill, spontaneous tribute of gratitude to God for His temporal
bounties. This feast was instituted in memory of the giving of the law,
that spiritual food by which man's soul is nourished
13-17. Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven
Various conjectures have been formed to account for the appointment of
this feast at the conclusion of the whole harvest. Some imagine that it
was designed to remind the Israelites of the time when they had no
cornfields to reap but were daily supplied with manna; others think
that it suited the convenience of the people better than any other
period of the year for dwelling in booths; others that it was the time
of Moses' second descent from the mount; while a fourth class are of
opinion that this feast was fixed to the time of the year when the Word
was made flesh and dwelt--literally, "tabernacled"--among us
Christ being actually born at that season.
15. in all the works of thine hands . . . rejoice--that is, praising
God with a warm and elevated heart. According to Jewish tradition, no
marriages were allowed to be celebrated during these great festivals,
that no personal or private rejoicings might be mingled with the
demonstrations of public and national gladness.
16. Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord
thy God--No command was laid on women to undertake the
journeys, partly from regard to the natural weakness of their sex, and
partly to their domestic cares.
18-20. Judges and officers shalt thou make--These last meant
heralds or bailiffs, employed in executing the sentence of their
in all thy gates--The gate was the place of public resort among the
Israelites and other Eastern people, where business was transacted and
causes decided. The Ottoman Porte derived its name from the
administration of justice at its gates.
21. Thou shalt not plant thee a grove--A grove has in Scripture a
variety of significations--a group of overshadowing trees, or a grove
adorned with altars dedicated to a particular deity, or a wooden image
in a grove
They might be placed near the earthen and temporary altars erected in
the wilderness, but they could not exist either at the tabernacle or
temples. They were places, which, with their usual accompaniments,
presented strong allurements to idolatry; and therefore the Israelites
were prohibited from planting them.
22. Neither shalt thou set thee up any image--erroneously rendered
so for "pillar"; pillars of various kinds, and materials of wood or
stone were erected in the neighborhood of altars. Sometimes they were
conical or oblong, at other times they served as pedestals for the
statues of idols. A superstitious reverence was attached to them, and
hence they were forbidden.