And he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord
Or the omer of barley; this was done by the priest in the tabernacle and temple, where was the presence of God, and that before the handful of it was put upon the altar; which agitation or waving was, as Gersom says, towards the cast; it was moved to and fro, backwards and forwards, upwards and downwards, to make an acknowledgment to the Lord of heaven and earth, that the fruits of the earth and the plentiful harvest were of him, and to give him the praise and glory of it: to be accepted for you;
of the Lord, as a thanksgiving to him, for the harvest now ripe, and the appointed time of it, and the plenty thereof; and that the remainder might be sanctified and blessed to them, and they have leave to gather it in, which they had not till this was done: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it;
not after the seventh day, but after the first day of the feast of unleavened bread, which was a sabbath, in which no servile work was to be done, ( Leviticus 23:7 ) ; and so the Targum of Jonathan calls it the day after the first good day of the passover, which was the sixteenth of Nisan, as Josephus expressly says, in the place above referred to; and so it is generally understood by Jewish writers F13 the account given of this affair is this; the messengers of the sanhedrim went out (from Jerusalem over the brook Kidron to the fields near it) on the evening of the feast, (i.e. at the going out of the fifteenth) and at the beginning of the sixteenth of Nisan, and bound the standing corn in bundles, that so it might be the more easily reaped; and all the neighbouring cities gathered together there, that it might be reaped in great pomp; and when it was dark, one said to them, is the sun set? they said, yes. With this sickle (shall I reap?) they said, yes. In this basket (shall I put it?) they said, yes. If on a sabbath day, he said to them, On this sabbath day (shall I do it?) they said, yes F14. These questions were put and answered three times; then they reaped it and put it into the baskets, and brought it to the court, where they parched it before the fire, to fulfil the commandment of parched corn; then they put it in mills for grinding beans, and took out of it a tenth part (of an ephah), which was sifted with eighteen sieves; then oil and frankincense were poured upon it, being mixed; and it was waved, and brought, and a handful taken and burnt, and the rest was eaten by the priests; and when they had offered the omer, they went out and found the streets of Jerusalem full of meal and parched corn F15, there being now full liberty to reap what they would: now this sheaf of the firstfruits was typical of Christ; it being of barley, may denote the mean estate of Christ in his humiliation; and but one sheaf for all the people, may signify that Christ is the one Mediator, Saviour, and Redeemer: yet as a sheaf comprehends many stalks and grains, so Christ has a complication of blessings in him; yea, he had all his people representatively in him, when he was offered for the whole body of his mystical Israel, all the children of God scattered abroad; the manner of reaping it, by persons deputed by the sanhedrim on the eve of a festival of the passover, in the sight of much people, without Jerusalem, near Kidron, exactly agrees with the apprehending of Christ in the night near Kidron, by persons sent from the Jewish sanhedrim, and his suffering publicly without the gates of Jerusalem; it being brought to the priests in the court, and threshed, winnowed, dried, and parched by the fire, and ground in mills, may denote the various dolorous sufferings of Christ, by means of the priests and elders of the people; and oil and frankincense being put on it, may denote the acceptableness of his sacrifice to God; and the waving of it, his resurrection from the dead, which was on the very day this sheaf was waved; who is the firstfruits of them that sleep in him, and which sanctifies the whole body of them, and ensures their resurrection unto eternal life; see ( 1 Corinthians 15:20 1 Corinthians 15:23 ) .
F13 Jarchi & Ben Gersom in loc. Jarchi in Misn. Succah, c. 3. sect. 12.
F14 Misn. Menachot, c. 10. sect. 3, 4.
F15 Ib. sect. 4, 5.