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.
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)