Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them
What is next observed, it being incumbent on them to do what is enjoined: when ye be come into the land which I give unto you:
the land of Canaan, which God had given by promise to their fathers and to them, and which they were now going to inherit: as yet they were in a wilderness, where there were no sowing nor reaping, nor any harvest; so that the following law, though now given, could not take place till they came into the land of Canaan: and shall reap the harvest thereof;
the barley harvest, which was about this time, the month Nisan, and which had the name Abib, from the barley being then in the ear, see ( Exodus 9:31 ) ; for the wheat harvest was not till seven weeks after: then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the
to with it as after directed: this is called an omer in the text, which was the tenth part of an ephah, ( Exodus 16:36 ) ; and so Jarchi interprets it here; according to the Jewish writers, when the sheaf was reaped, the corn was beat out and winnowed, and dried by the fire, and then ground in a mill, and an omer, or a tenth part of an ephah of the flour of it was taken, and oil and frankincense put upon it, an handful of which being put upon the altar, the rest was the priest's; and with this pretty much agrees the account Josephus gives, who says, on the second day of unleavened bread, which is the sixteenth (day of Nisan), of the fruits they have reaped they take a part; for they do not touch them before, accounting it just to honour God first, from whom they receive the plenty of these things; and bring the firstfruits of the barley after this manner, having dried the handful of ears, and bruised them, and cleansed them from the bran, they bring to the altar a tenth part to God, and casting one handful of it on the altar, they leave the rest for the use of the priests; and from thence forward it is lawful to reap publicly and privately F11: this has been in some part imitated by the Heathens: the Egyptians, who ascribe the invention of the fruits of the earth, particularly wheat and barley, to Isis and Osiris, in memory of it, and as a testimony of their gratitude for it, at the time of harvest, bring an handful of the first ears of corn, and beating themselves near them, call upon Isis; and in some cities, at the feast of Isis, vessels of wheat and barley were carried about in great pomp, as Diodorus Siculus F12 relates.
F11 Antiqu. l. 3. c. 10. sect. 5.
F12 Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 13.