DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 16.
The Great Festivals of the Jews.
OF THE PASSOVER AND THE FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD. — V.1. Observe The month of Abib, the first month of the church-pear, and keep the Passover unto the Lord, thy God, on the fourteenth of the month; for in the-month of Abib the Lord, thy God, brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. Cp. Ex. 12; Lev. 23; Num. 9. V.2. Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the Passover unto the Lord, thy God, of the flock and the herd, for the offerings of the entire week, especially those of the first day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, are here included, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place His name there, where the central Sanctuary would be erected. V.3. Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it, Ex. 12. 15; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction, to remind the people of the oppression which they suffered in Egypt and of the suddenness of the delivery; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste, the Egyptians almost thrusting them forth, Ex. 12, 39; that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life. V.4. And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast, in the entire country, to its utmost boundaries, seven days, as long as the double festival lasted; neither shall there anything of the flesh which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, the Passover sacrifice proper, remain all night until the morning, Ex, 12, 10; 34, 25. V.5. Thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates, in any city of the land of Canaan where the worshipers happened to live, which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee; v.6. but at the place which the Lord, thy God, shall choose to place His name in, where the Sanctuary of the entire nation would be erected, there thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun, when night was coming on, Ex. 12, 6, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt, at that exact time of the year. V.7. And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the Lord, thy God, shall choose; and thou shalt turn in the morning and go unto thy tents, the standing expression for centuries for going home. V.8. Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread; and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord, thy God, Lev. 23, 36, a high festival day on which all work was forbidden; thou shalt do no work therein. Note that even here the two festivals are considered practically as one, also that the ordinances as originally given were modified, for the entire Passover celebration took place at the central Sanctuary, and the individual houses were no longer regarded as the places of sacrifice, nor was the blood used to paint the door-posts, as in Egypt.
OF PENTECOST. — V.9. Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee, namely, from the sixteenth of Abib, or Nisan. Lev. 23, 15; begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn, which was done on the sixteenth of Nisan, when the first-fruits of barley were offered to the Lord. V.10. And thou shalt keep the Feast of Weeks, or Pentecost, unto the Lord, thy God, with a tribute, or measure, of a free-will offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the Lord, thy God, according as the Lord, thy God, hath blessed thee, the offering thus being as rich as the worshiper desired, in proportion to the blessing which he had received at the Lord’s hand. Ex. 23, 15; 34, 20; v.11. And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord, thy God, chap. 12, 7. 12. 18, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man-servant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow that are among you, in the place which the Lord, thy God, hath chosen to place His name there. Though only a one-day festival, Pentecost was celebrated with great joy, and the needs of the poor and forsaken were particularly stressed. V.12. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt; and thou shalt observe and do these statutes, always spurred on in these efforts by the remembrance of the wonderful redemption from the serfdom of Egypt. Note that only that side of the festival is here touched upon which concerned the Israelite personally, the public sacrifices being described Num. 28 and 29.
OF THE FEAST OF TABERNACLE. — V.13. Thou shalt observe the Feast of Tabernacles seven days, Ex. 23, 16; Lev. 23, 34; Num. 29, 12, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine, all the products of the threshing-floor and of the wine-press; v.14. and thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow that are within thy gates, all of whom should be remembered upon such a happy occasion. V.15. Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord, thy God, Lev. 23, 39, in the place which the Lord shall choose; because the Lord, thy God, shall bless thee in all thine increase and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice. V.16. Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the Lord, thy God, in the place which He shall choose, Ex. 23, 17; 34, 23, but this precept did not exclude the women, 1 Sam. 1, 3-5; Luke 2, 41: in the Feast of Unleavened Bread and in the Feast of Weeks and in the Feast of Tabernacles. And they shall not appear before the Lord empty; v.17. every man shall give as he is able, as much as he finds that he can possibly afford to give, according to the blessing of the Lord, thy God, which He hath given thee, in the form of voluntary offerings. Three points deserve to be noted here, namely, that all men appeared at these great festivals, and that they did not leave their families at home if they could arrange to bring them along, that the rejoicing was over the wonderful deeds of the Lord, and that they brought voluntary gifts, as the Lord had prospered them. These three points deserve to be kept in mind by all Christians.
PRECEPTS OF RIGHT JUDGMENT. — V.18. Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, in all cities and towns, which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee, throughout thy tribes, chap. 1, 12-18. So the judges were to have assistants, not only for clerical work, but also as counselors and as keepers of the genealogical records; and they shall judge the people with just judgment, with a strict regard for righteousness and justice. V.19. Thou shalt not wrest judgment, stretch the right, turn it aside from the right path, Ex. 23, 2. 6. 8. Thou shalt not respect persons, either out of deference to a powerful person or out of sympathy with a needy man, neither take a gift, a bribe; for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise and pervert the words of the righteous, corrupt the good cases of those that are in the right. V.20. That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, pursuing justice, and justice only, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord, thy God, giveth thee. Some bad transgressions that might come to the attention of the authorities are now named. V.21. Thou shalt not plant thee a grove, erect a wooden pillar which was used in the worship of Asherah, a heathen goddess, of any trees near unto the altar of the Lord, thy God, which thou shalt make thee. V.22. Neither shalt thou set thee up any image, statue or pillar, such as were erected in honor of Baal, Ex. 23, 34; which the Lord, thy God, hateth. The constant repetition of the same precept serves the same purpose as our daily examination for the purpose of cleansing our lives and of growing in sanctification.