With this chapter Moses concludes the particular statutes which he
thought fit to give Israel in charge at his parting with them; what
follows is by way of sanction and ratification. In this chapter,
I. Moses gives them a form of confession to be made by him that
offered the basket of his first-fruits,
II. The protestation and prayer to be made after the disposal of the
third year's tithe,
III. He binds on all the precepts he had given them,
1. By the divine authority: "Not I, but the Lord thy God has commanded
thee to do these statutes,"
2. By the mutual covenant between God and them,
|The Offering of First-Fruits.
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1 And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which
the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest
it, and dwellest therein;
2 That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the
earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God
giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto
the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name
3 And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those
days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God,
that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our
fathers for to give us.
4 And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and
set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God.
5 And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A
Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into
Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation,
great, mighty, and populous:
6 And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and
laid upon us hard bondage:
7 And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD
heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour,
and our oppression:
8 And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty
hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness,
and with signs, and with wonders:
9 And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us
this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey.
10 And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land,
which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before
the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God:
11 And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD
thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the
Levite, and the stranger that is among you.
I. A good work ordered to be done, and that is the presenting of a
basket of their first-fruits to God every year,
Besides the sheaf of first-fruits, which was offered for the
whole land, on the morrow after the passover
every man was to bring for himself a basket of first-fruits at the
feast of pentecost, when the harvest was ended, which is therefore
called the feast of first-fruits
and is said to be kept with a tribute of free-will-offering,
But the Jews say, "The first-fruits, if not brought then, might be
brought any time after, between that and winter." When a man went into
the field or vineyard at the time when the fruits were ripening, he was
to mark that which he observed most forward, and to lay it by for
first-fruits, wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and
dates, some of each sort must be put in the same basket, with leaves
between them, and presented to God in the place which he should choose.
Now from this law we may learn,
1. To acknowledge God as the giver of all those good things which are
the support and comfort of our natural life, and therefore to serve and
honour him with them.
2. To deny ourselves. What is first ripe we are most fond of; those
that are nice and curious expect to be served with each fruit at its
first coming in. My soul desired the first ripe fruits,
When therefore God appointed them to lay those by for him he taught
them to prefer the glorifying of his name before the gratifying of
their own appetites and desires.
3. To give to God the first and best we have, as those that believe him
to be the first and best of beings. Those that consecrate the days of
their youth, and the prime of their time, to the service and honour of
God, bring him their first-fruits, and with such offerings he is well
pleased. I remember the kindness of thy youth.
II. Good words put into their mouths to be said in the doing of this
good work, as an explication of the meaning of this ceremony, that it
might be a reasonable service. The offerer must begin his
acknowledgment before he delivered his basket to the priest, and then
must go on with it, when the priest had set down the basket before the
altar, as a present to God their great landlord,
1. He must begin with a receipt in full for the good land which God had
I profess that I have come now at last, after forty years'
wandering, unto the country which the Lord swore to give us.
This was most proper to be said when they came first into Canaan;
probably when they had been long settled there they varied from this
form. Note, When God has made good his promises to us he expects that
we should own it, to the honour of his faithfulness; this is like
giving up the bond, as Solomon does,
1 Kings 8:56,
There has not failed one word of all his good promise. And our
creature-comforts are doubly sweet to us when we see them flowing from
the fountain of the promise.
2. He must remember and own the mean origin of that nation of which he
was a member. How great soever they were now, and he himself with them,
their beginning was very small, which ought thus to be kept in mind
throughout all the ages of their church by this public confession, that
they might not be proud of their privileges and advantages, but might
for ever be thankful to that God whose grace chose them when they were
so low and raised them so high. Two things they must own for this
(1.) The meanness of their common ancestor: A Syrian ready to perish
was my father,
Jacob is here called an Aramite, or Syrian, because he
lived twenty years in Padan-Aram; his wives were of that country, and
his children were all born there, except Benjamin; and perhaps the
confessor means not Jacob himself, but that son of Jacob who was the
father of his tribe. However it be, both father and sons were more than
once ready to perish, by Laban's severity, Esau's cruelty, and the
famine in the land, which last was the occasion of their going down
into Egypt. Laban the Syrian sought to destroy my father (so the
Chaldee), had almost destroyed him, so the Arabic.
(2.) The miserable condition of their nation in its infancy. They
sojourned in Egypt as strangers, they served there as slaves
and that a great while: as their father was called a Syrian,
they might be called Egyptians; so that their possession of
Canaan being so long discontinued they could not pretend any
tenant-right to it. A poor, despised, oppressed people they were in
Egypt, and therefore, though now rich and great, had no reason to be
proud, or secure, or forgetful of God.
3. He must thankfully acknowledge God's great goodness, not only to
himself in particular, but to Israel in general.
(1.) In bringing them out of Egypt,
It is spoken of here as an act of pity--he looked on our
affliction; and an act of power--he brought us forth with a
mighty hand. This was a great salvation, fit to be remembered upon
all occasions, and particularly upon this; they need not grudge to
bring a basket of first-fruits to God, for to him they owed it that
they were not now bringing in the tale of bricks to their cruel
(2.) In settling them in Canaan: He hath given us this land,
Observe, He must not only give thanks for his own lot, but for the land
in general which was given to Israel; not only for this year's profits,
but for the ground itself which produced them, which God had graciously
granted to his ancestors and entailed upon his posterity. Note, The
comfort we have in particular enjoyments should lead us to be thankful
for our share in public peace and plenty; and with present mercies we
should bless God for the former mercies we remember and the further
mercies we expect and hope for.
4. He must offer to God his basket of first-fruits
"I have brought the first-fruits of the land (like a
pepper-corn) as a quit-rent for the land which thou hast given
me." Note, Whatever we give to God, it is but of his own
that we give him,
1 Chronicles 29:14.
And it becomes us, who receive so much from him, to study what we shall
render to him. The basket he set before God; and the priests, as God's
receivers, had the first-fruits, as perquisites of their place and fees
III. The offerer is here appointed, when he has finished the service,
1. To give glory to God: Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God.
His first-fruits were not accepted without further acts of adoration. A
humble, reverent, thankful heart is that which God looks at and
requires, and, without this, all we can put in a basket will not avail.
If a man would give all the substance of his house to be excused
from this, or in lieu of it, it would utterly be contemned.
2. To take the comfort of it to himself and family: Thou shalt
rejoice in every good thing,
It is the will of God that we should be cheerful, not only in our
attendance upon his holy ordinances, but in our enjoyments of the gifts
of his providence. Whatever good thing God gives us, it is his will
that we should make the most comfortable use we can of it, yet still
tracing the streams to the fountain of all comfort and consolation.
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12 When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of
thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing,
and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the
fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates,
and be filled;
13 Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought
away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given
them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless,
and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou
hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments,
neither have I forgotten them:
14 I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I
taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given
ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice
of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou
hast commanded me.
15 Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless
thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou
swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and
Concerning the disposal of their tithe the third year we had the law
The second tithe, which in the other two years was to be spent in
extraordinaries at the feasts, was to be spent the third year at home,
in entertaining the poor. Now because this was done from under the eye
of the priests, and a great confidence was put in the people's honesty,
that they would dispose of it according to the law, to the Levite,
the stranger, and the fatherless
it is therefore required that when at the next feast after they
appeared before the Lord they should there testify (as it were)
upon oath, in a religious manner, that they had fully administered, and
been true to their trust.
I. They must make a solemn protestation to this purport,
1. That no hallowed things were hoarded up: "I have brought them
away out of my house, nothing now remains there but my own part."
2. That the poor, and particularly poor ministers, poor strangers, and
poor widows, had had their part according to the commandment. It is fit
that God, who by his providence gives us all we have, should by his law
direct the using of it, and, though we are not now under such
particular appropriations of our revenue as they then were, yet, in
general, we are commanded to give alms of such things as we have; and
then, and not otherwise, all things are clean to us. Then we may
take the comfort of our enjoyments, when God has thus had his dues out
of them. This is a commandment which must not be transgressed, no, not
with an excuse of its being forgotten,
3. That none of this tithe had been misapplied to any common use, much
less to any ill use. This seems to refer to the tithe of the other two
years, which was to be eaten by the owners themselves; they must
(1.) That they had not eaten of it in their mourning, when, by their
mourning for the dead, they were commonly unclean; or they had not
eaten of it grudgingly, as those that all their days eat in darkness.
(2.) That they had not sacrilegiously alienated it to any common use,
for it was not their own. And,
(3.) That they had not given it for the dead, for the honour of their
dead gods, or in hope of making it beneficial to their dead friends.
Now the obliging of them to make this solemn protestation at the three
years' end would be an obligation upon them to deal faithfully, knowing
that they must be called upon thus to purge themselves. It is our
wisdom to keep conscience clear at all times, that when we come to give
up our account we may lift up our face without spot. The Jews say that
this protestation of their integrity was to be made with a low voice,
because it looked like a self-commendation, but that the foregoing
confession of God's goodness was to be made with a loud voice to his
glory. He that durst not make this protestation must bring his
II. To this solemn protestation they must add a solemn prayer
not particularly for themselves, but for God's people Israel;
for in the common peace and prosperity every particular person prospers
and has peace. We must learn hence to be public-spirited in prayer, and
to wrestle with God for blessings for the land and nation, our English
Israel, and for the universal church, which we are directed to have an
eye to in our prayers, as the Israel of God,
In this prayer we are taught,
1. To look up to God as in a holy habitation, and thence to infer that
holiness becomes his house, and that he will be sanctified in those
that are about him.
2. To depend upon the favour of God, and his gracious cognizance, as
sufficient to make us and our people happy.
3. To reckon it wonderful condescension in God to case an eye even
upon so great and honourable a body as Israel was. It is looking down.
4. To be earnest with God for a blessing upon his people Israel, and
upon the land which he has given us. For how should the earth
yield its increase, or, if it does, what comfort can we take in it,
unless therewith God, even our own God, gives us his blessing?
|Israel Reminded of the Covenant.
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16 This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these
statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them
with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
17 Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to
walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments,
and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice:
18 And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar
people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep
all his commandments;
19 And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made,
in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an
holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.
Two things Moses here urges to enforce all these precepts:--
1. That they were the commands of God,
They were not the dictates of his own wisdom, nor were they enacted by
any authority of his own, but infinite wisdom framed them, and the
power of the King of kings made them binding to them: "The Lord thy
God commands thee, therefore thou art bound in duty and gratitude
to obey him, and it is at thy peril if thou disobey. They are his laws,
therefore thou shalt do them, for to that end were they given thee: do
them and not dispute them, do them and not draw back from them; do them
not carelessly and hypocritically, but with thy heart and soul, thy
whole heart and thy whole soul."
2. That their covenant with God obliged them to keep these commands.
He insists not only upon God's sovereignty over them, but his propriety
in them, and the relation wherein they stood to him. The covenant is
mutual, and it binds to obedience both ways.
(1.) That we may perform our part of the covenant, and answer the
intentions of that
"Thou hast avouched and solemnly owned and confessed the Lord
Jehovah to be thy God, thy Prince and Ruler. As he is so by an
incontestable right, so he is by thy own consent." They did this
implicitly by their attendance on his word, had done it expressly
and were now to do it again before they parted,
Now this obliges us, in fidelity to our word, as well as in duty to our
Sovereign, to keep his statutes and his commandments. We really
forswear ourselves, and perfidiously violate the most sacred
engagements, if, when we have taken the Lord to be our God, we do not
make conscience of obeying his commands.
(2.) That God's part of the covenant also may be made good, and the
intentions of that answered
The Lord has avouched, not only taken, but publicly owned thee
to be his segullah, his peculiar people, as he has promised
thee, that is, according to the true intent and meaning of the
promise. Now their obedience was not only the condition of this favour,
and of the continuance of it (if they were not obedient, God would
disown them, and cast them off), but it was also the principal design
of this favour. "He has avouched thee on purpose that thou shouldest
keep his commandments, that thou mightest have both the best
directions and the best encouragements in religion." Thus we are
elected to obedience
(1 Peter 1:2),
chosen that we should be holy
purified, a peculiar people, that we might not only do good works, but
be zealous in them,
Two things God is here said to design in avouching them to be his
to make them high, and, in order to that, to make them holy; for
holiness is true honour, and the only way to everlasting honour.
[1.] To make them high above all nations. The greatest honour we are
capable of in this world is to be taken into covenant with God, and to
live in his service. They should be, First, High in
praise; for God would accept them, which is true praise,
Their friends would admire them,
Secondly, High in name, which, some think, denotes the
continuance and perpetuity of that praise, a name that shall not be
cut off. Thirdly, High in honour, that is, in all the
advantages of wealth and power, which would make them great above their
[2.] That they might be a holy people, separated for God, devoted to
him, and employed continually in his service. This God aimed at in
taking them to be his people; so that, if they did not keep his
commandments, they received all this grace in vain.