Deuteronomy 18:4

4 You are to give him the firstfruits of your grain, new wine, and oil, and the first sheared [wool] of your flock.

Deuteronomy 18:4 Meaning and Commentary

Deuteronomy 18:4

The firstfruit also of thy corn, and of thy wine, and of thy
This is the "terumah", or heave offering, the offering of the firstfruits; what the measure or quantity was is not declared, but is fixed by the Jews; (See Gill on Exodus 22:29),

and the first of the fleece of thy sheep shall thou give him:
concerning which in the Misnah F18 it is said, the first of the fleece is used in the land and without the land, of which they give the weight of five shekels in Judea, which are ten shekels in Galilee; and they give white wool, and not defiled, enough to make of it a little garment. He that buys a fleece of the sheep of a Gentile, he is free from the first of the fleece; but if he buys it of his neighbour, if he leaves any of it, the seller is bound, if none the buyer is bound; if there are two sorts, russet and white, and he sells the russet but not the white, the males but not the females, everyone gives for himself. It may be observed in this account, that as much wool was to be given as would make a small garment; enough, says one of the commentators {s}, to make a little garment to minister in; and the least garment fit for a priest to minister in is a girdle. Jarchi's paraphrase of it is,

``when thou shearest thy flock every year, give the first of it to the priest; it does not determine the quantity, but our Rabbins fix it to the sixtieth part;''

with which agrees the observation of another writer F20, that there is no quantity fixed for the first of the fleece from the law, but from the words of the Scribes it must not be less than the sixtieth part. There is no obligation to the first of the fleece until five sheep are shorn, and the fleece of everyone of the five must not be less than twelve shekels' weight; but if there is one fleece of them less than twelve shekels, though the five fleeces are more than sixty shekels, lo, this is free; so that, as Maimonides F21 says, the first of the fleece is not less than the weight of a shekel.


F18 Cholin, c. 11. sect. 1, 2.
F19 Bartenora in ib.
F20 Ibid.
F21 In Misn. ib.

Deuteronomy 18:4 In-Context

2 Although Levi has no inheritance among his brothers, the Lord is his inheritance, as He promised him.
3 This is the priests' share from the people who offer a sacrifice, whether it is an ox, a sheep, or a goat; the priests are to be given the shoulder, jaws, and stomach.
4 You are to give him the firstfruits of your grain, new wine, and oil, and the first sheared [wool] of your flock.
5 For the Lord your God has chosen him and his sons from all your tribes to stand and minister in the Lord's name from now on.
6 When a Levite leaves one of your towns where he lives in Israel and wants to go to the place the Lord chooses,
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