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Deuteronomy Chapter 26
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First Fruits
26:1 When you come to the land that God your Lord is giving you as a heritage, occupying and settling it,
26:2 you shall take the first of every fruit of the ground produced by the land that God your Lord is giving you. You must place it in a basket, and go to the site that God will choose as the place associated with His name.
26:3 There you shall go to the priest officiating at the time, and say to him, 'Today I am affirming to God your Lord that I have come to the land that God swore to our fathers to give us.'
26:4 The priest shall then take the basket from your hand and place it before the altar of God your Lord.
26:5 You shall then make the following declaration before God your Lord:
'My ancestor was a homeless Aramaean. He went to Egypt with a small number of men and lived there as an immigrant, but it was there that he became a great, powerful, and populous nation.
26:6 The Egyptians were cruel to us, making us suffer and imposing harsh slavery on us.
26:7 We cried out to God, Lord of our ancestors, and God heard our voice, seeing our suffering, our harsh labor, and our distress.
26:8 'God then brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and an outstretched arm with great visions and with signs and miracles.
26:9 He brought us to this area, giving us this land flowing with milk and honey.
26:10 I am now bringing the first fruit of the land that God has given me.'

With that, you shall set the basket down before God your Lord, and you shall then bow down before God your Lord.

26:11 You, the Levite, and the proselyte in your midst shall thus rejoice in all the good that God your Lord has granted you and your family.

Declaration for Removing Tithes
26:12 When you have finished taking all the tithes of your grain for the third year, which is the special tithe year, you must give them to the Levite, and to the foreigner, orphan and widow, so that they will eat their fill in your settlements.
26:13 You must then make the following declaration before God your Lord:

'I have removed all the sacred portions from my house. I have given the appropriate ones to the Levite and to the orphan and widow, following all the commandments You prescribed to us. I have not violated your commandment, and have forgotten nothing.

26:14 'I have not eaten [the second tithe] while in mourning. I have not separated any of it while unclean, and I have not used any for the dead. I have obeyed [You], God my Lord, and have done all that You commanded me.
26:15 'Look down from Your holy habitation in heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the land that You have given us, the land flowing with milk and honey that You swore to our fathers.'

Concluding the Commandments
26:16 Today God your Lord is commanding you to obey all these rules and laws. You must carefully keep them with all your heart and with all your soul.
26:17 Today you have declared allegiance to God, making Him your God, and [pledging to] walk in His paths, keep His decrees, commandments and laws, and to obey His voice.
26:18 God has similarly declared allegiance to you today, making you His special nation as He promised you. If you keep all His commandments,
26:19 He will make you the highest of all the nations He brought into existence, [so that you will have] praise, fame and glory. You will remain a nation consecrated to God your Lord, as He promised.



Commentary:

first
  The owner would mark the first fruit to ripen by tying a piece of papyrus reed around it (Bikkurim 3:1).

fruit...
  Only the seven species mentioned in Deuteronomy 8:8 (Menachoth 84b; Rashi). The first-fruits could only be brought to the Temple after Shavuoth, which is called the 'feast of first-fruits' (Exodus 23:16, Numbers 28:26; Bikkurim 1:3).

basket
  A food basket (Deuteronomy 28:5), tene in Hebrew. The baskets were made of peeled willow twigs (Bikkurim 3:8), but the main law here is that the first-fruits must be brought in a vessel (Sifri).

the site...
  See Deuteronomy, 12:5.

officiating at the time
  That is, in the shift (mishmor) officiating at the time (Abarbanel).

and say to him
  At that time, the owner is holding the basket on his shoulder (Bikkurim 3:6; Yad, Bikkurim 3:12).

take
  As God's agent (Chizzkuni). Some say that the priest now takes it to wave it in the prescribed manner; see note on Exodus 29:24. (Rashi; see Sukkah 47b, Makkoth 18b; Menachoth 61b).

place it
  Some say that at this point the basket is placed before the altar, and then it is put down a second time as mentioned in Deuteronomy 26:10 (Sifri; Midrash HaGadol; Rash, Bikkurim 3:6; Abarbanel). Others translate 'place' here as 'wave' (Sukkah 47b) and render the verse, 'The priest shall take the basket ... and wave it before the altar ...' (cf. Tosafoth, Makkoth 18b, s.v. U'Man). Or, 'The priest shall then wave the basket from your hand, and before placing it before the altar ... (26:5) you shall make the following declaration (Tosefoth Yom Tov, Bikkurim 3:6; cf. Yad, Bikkurim 3:12). Or, 'Before the priest takes the basket from your hand and places it before the altar ... (26:5) you shall make the following declaration' (Shenoth Eliahu, Bikkurim 3:6).

You shall then
  After taking the basket back from the priest (Rashi on Deuteronomy 26:10). Or while waving the basket (cf. Yad, Bikkurim 3:12; Tosafoth Yom Tov on Bikkurim 3:6). Or before the priest takes the basket (Shenoth Eliahu, Bikkurim 3:6).

ancestor
  Jacob. Or, Abraham (Rashbam).

homeless Aramaean
  (Rashbam; Sforno; cf. Chizzkuni on 11:17). Or, 'a poor Aramaean' (Ibn Ezra, Chizzkuni; Bachya), or, 'a persecuted Aramaean' (Radak, Sherashim). Jacob is referred to as an Aramaean because this was the homeland of his ancestors. Or, 'my ancestor was exiled to Aramaea' (Targum Yonathan; Ralbag), or, 'my ancestor abandoned Aramaea' (Septuagint). Or, 'An Aramaean [tried to] destroy my ancestor [Jacob],' where the Aramaean is Laban (cf. Genesis 31:22,29; Targum; Sifri; Saadia; Rashi).

visions
  (Targum; Chizzkuni; Septuagint). Or, 'terror' (Abarbanel).

set
  Literally (Yad, Bikkurim 3:12). Or, 'wave' (Sukkah 47b). Thus, some say that it was waved twice (Sifri; Rash on Bikkurim 3:6; Tosafoth, Makkoth 18b), or put down twice (Shenoth Eliahu on Bikkurim 3:6; Lekach Tov; Midrash HaGadol).

before God
  On the southwest corner of the altar (Yerushalmi, Bikkurim 3:4; Yad, Bikkurim 3:12). See Leviticus 6:7 (Malbim).

bow down
  Literally, 'prostrate yourself' (Ralbag; Tifereth Yisrael on Shekalim 6:1).

Levite
  Who must also bring first fruits of his produce (Rashi).

proselyte
  Who has the same status as any other Israelite, and can even make the above declaration, since he is a spiritual descendant of Abraham (Yerushalmi, Bikkurim 1:4; Yad, Bikkurim 4:3).

for
  (see HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

the third year
  Thus, on the eve of Passover of the fourth and seventh years, one would have to rid himself of all tithes and priestly gifts (Maaser Sheni 5:6). See Deuteronomy, 14:28. Then, on the seventh day of Passover in the afternoon, one would make the declaration below (Maaser Sheni 5:10).

to the Levite
  This is the Levitical tithe (Maaser Sheni 5:10).

to the foreigner
  This is the tithe for the poor, given in the third and sixth years, as in Deuteronomy 14:29 (Ibid.; Rashi).

the second tithe
  (Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 151; Ramban).

mourning
  (Maaser Sheni 5:12; Targum; Rashi; Septuagint). Or, 'dishonestly' (Rashbam; Paaneach Razah; cf. Abarbanel).

separated
  (Maaser Sheni 5:12; Targum Yonathan). Or, 'consumed' (Rashi; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 150).

for the dead
  Such as to buy shrouds and a casket (Sifri; Rashi; Maaser Sheni 5:12). Actually, the second tithe cannot be used for any non-food purpose. Some say that use for non-food purposes other than the dead does not prevent one from making this statement, even though it is forbidden (Ramban; Shenoth Eliahu on Maaser Sheni 5:12). Others say that although fruits of the second tithes that have become unclean may be used for non-food purposes, they still may not be used for the dead (Rash on Maaser Sheni 5:12 from Yevamoth 74a). Others interpret 'dead' as denoting any use that does not sustain life, that is, any non-food use (Yad, Maaser Sheni 3:10; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 152).

heaven
  That is, a realm beyond. The Hebrew word for 'heaven' is shamayim, from the word sham meaning 'there.' Thus. shamayim denotes that which is not here. Or, it can come from the root shamam meaning 'unimaginable' (see HaKethav VeHaKabbalah on Genesis 1:1, Deuteronomy 1:28).

Today
  Now that Moses has finished declaring all the commandments to the Israelites (Ramban; Abarbanel). They are also about to enter into the covenant; Deuteronomy, 29:11 (Sforno). This concludes the second part of Deuteronomy, from 12:1 to here, 26:16, where Moses clarifies the last commandments given to the Israelites (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah; Malbim; cf. 1:3).

declared allegiance
  Or, 'betrothed' (Malbim; cf. Gittin 57b). He-emar in Hebrew. Or, 'distinguished' (Rashi) 'raised' (Rashi; Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim; Sforno), 'raised to the top' (Lekach Tov; Ralbag); 'given fame to' (Ibn Janach, quoting Sherira Gaon, Shabbath 105a); 'accepted the uniqueness of' (Rashi, Chagigah 3a, Gittin 57b; Arukh, s.v. Amar); 'granted praise and importance to' (Rashi, Berakhoth 6a, s.v. Chativa; cf. Targum); 'exchanged everything for' (Chizzkuni; Paaneach Razah); 'brought God to declare' (Ibn Ezra, quoting Rabbi Yehuda HaLevi), fais dire in French (Rashbam; Chizzkuni); 'caused it to be said of God' (Hirsch); 'recognised God' (Saadia), or, 'chosen' (Septuagint).

special nation
  Am Segulah. See Deuteronomy, 7:6, 14:2, Exodus 6:7, 19:5. This day was therefore like Sinai (Ramban).

If
  Literally, 'and.' Or, 'Therefore, keep ...' (Targum Yonathan).

that you will have
  (Ramban; Midrash HaGadol).





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