And it shall be, when thou art come in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and possessest it, and dwellest therein;Deuteronomy 26:1-2. When thou art come into the land — Every Israelite being obliged, by law, to offer the first-fruits of his field and vineyard at the tabernacle, at the proper seasons of the year, Moses now prescribes to them the forms of solemn profession and prayer with which each offerer should present them. Thou shalt go unto the place which the Lord shall choose — This seems to have been especially enjoined to each master of a family, and the time when these first-fruits were to be presented was the feast of pentecost, Exodus 23:16; when, as well as at the two other great feasts, that of the passover, and that of tabernacles, they were obliged to go up to the place of God’s altar.
That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there.
And thou shalt go unto the priest that shall be in those days, and say unto him, I profess this day unto the LORD thy God, that I am come unto the country which the LORD sware unto our fathers for to give us.Deuteronomy 26:3. I profess this day unto the Lord — Thus, at his presenting them to the priest in waiting, the offerer was to declare he brought them in humble and grateful acknowledgment of the divine providence and goodness, that had settled him and his family in this fruitful country, pursuant to the gracious promises made to his forefathers. And the following confession appointed to be made on the occasion was well fitted to excite in his mind humility, gratitude, and trust in God; it being an important part of the worship of God, as Maimonides observes, for a man to be mindful of his afflictions, when God has given him rest from them.
And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the LORD thy God.
And thou shalt speak and say before the LORD thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous:Deuteronomy 26:5. A Syrian was my father — That is, Jacob; for though born in Canaan, he was a Syrian by descent, his mother Rebecca, and his grandfather Abraham, being both of Chaldea or Mesopotamia, which in Scripture is comprehended under the name of Syria. His wives and children, by their mothers’ side, and his relations, were Syrians, and he himself had lived twenty years in Syria with Laban. Ready to perish — Through want and poverty, or through the rage of his brother Esau, and the treachery of his father-in-law Laban: see Genesis 28:11; Genesis 28:20; Genesis 32:10.
Or perhaps this refers to the state of Jacob a little before he went down into Egypt, when he and his family were in danger of perishing by famine, had he not been sustained by his son.
And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage:
And when we cried unto the LORD God of our fathers, the LORD heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression:
And the LORD brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders:
And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, even a land that floweth with milk and honey.
And now, behold, I have brought the firstfruits of the land, which thou, O LORD, hast given me. And thou shalt set it before the LORD thy God, and worship before the LORD thy God:Deuteronomy 26:10-11. Thou shalt set it — The basket of first-fruits; before the Lord — That is, before the sanctuary, where God was more especially present. This shows that the person offering this oblation was to hold the basket in his hand while he made the foregoing acknowledgment. And worship before the Lord — Bowing his body, as the original word imports, toward the holy place, which external sign of inward worship, in all truly pious men, was accompanied with gratitude of heart to God for his benefits, and with prayer for their continuance. And thou shalt rejoice — Thou shalt hereby be enabled to take comfort in all thy enjoyments, when thou hast sanctified them by giving God his portion. It is the will of God that we should be cheerful, not only in our attendance upon his holy ordinances, but in our enjoyment of the gifts of his providence. Whatever good thing God gives us, we should make the most comfortable use of it we can, still tracing the streams to the fountain of all consolation.
And thou shalt rejoice in every good thing which the LORD thy God hath given unto thee, and unto thine house, thou, and the Levite, and the stranger that is among you.
When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;Deuteronomy 26:12. The third year, which was the year of tithing — Hebrews of that tithe; that is, of the tithe for the poor, commanded to be paid every third year, and instead of being carried to the place of the sanctuary, there to be eaten with joy before the Lord, was to be spent at home in entertaining their poor neighbours, and the Levites who lived in or near the place of the owner: see Deuteronomy 14:27-29; where this tithe is enjoined. Of the other yearly tithes, see on Deuteronomy 14:22-23.
Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:Deuteronomy 26:13. Before the Lord thy God — As this tithe of the third year was to be spent at home, these words must signify either that every man was to make this solemn profession at home in his private addresses to God, or that the next time he went up to the place of the sanctuary he was to make this declaration before the most holy place, where God was supposed to be peculiarly present. At whichever place he made it, it was to be done as before God; that is, solemnly, seriously, and in a religious manner, with due respect to God’s presence, in obedience to his command, and with an eye to his glory.
I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.Deuteronomy 26:14. I have not eaten thereof in my mourning — This is thought by Spencer to have respect to some idolatrous custom then in use: such as that of the Egyptians, who, when they offered the first-fruits of the earth, were wont to invoke Isis with doleful lamentations. But, as the Israelites were not allowed to eat of things consecrated to God, when they were in a state of mourning, (Hosea 9:4,) this may probably be all that is here intended. Or the declaration may mean, I have not done it in sorrow, grieving that I was to give away so much of my profits to the poor, but I have cheerfully eaten and feasted with them, as I was commanded to do. For any unclean use — As some of the old idolaters were wont to do, who separated part of the first-fruits for magical, and sometimes impure uses; or for any common use; for any other use than that which thou hast appointed; which would have been a pollution of them. Nor given aught thereof for the dead — Or, to the dead; that is, says Spencer, to dead idols, such as the Gentiles worshipped, who offered their first-fruits to them, as if they had been the authors of their increase. But the expression, for the dead, more probably means for any funeral pomp or service, for, it seems, the Jews were wont to send in provisions to feast with the nearest relations of the party deceased; and in that case, both the guests and food were legally polluted, Numbers 19:11-14; and, therefore, to have used these tithes in such a way would have been a double fault, both a defiling of sacred food, and the employing of those provisions on sorrowful occasions, which, by God’s express command, were to be eaten with rejoicing.
Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.Deuteronomy 26:15. Look down from thy holy habitation — Though God was pleased to dwell among them, by a glorious symbol of his presence, yet Moses well knew, and hereby teaches the Israelites to acknowledge, that he dwelt in more transcendent glory in the heavens, which all nations have believed to be the throne and peculiar habitation of the omnipresent God. And bless thy people — Thus, after that solemn profession of their obedience to God’s commands, they were taught to pray for God’s blessing; whereby they were instructed how vain and ineffectual the prayers of unrighteous or disobedient persons are.
This day the LORD thy God hath commanded thee to do these statutes and judgments: thou shalt therefore keep and do them with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice:Deuteronomy 26:17-18. Avouched — Or declared, or owned. Avouched thee — Hath owned thee for such before all the world, by eminent and glorious manifestations of his power and favour, by a solemn entering into covenant with thee, and giving peculiar laws, promises, and privileges to thee above all mankind.
And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people, as he hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all his commandments;
And to make thee high above all nations which he hath made, in praise, and in name, and in honour; and that thou mayest be an holy people unto the LORD thy God, as he hath spoken.