Deuteronomy 15:20
Thou shalt eat it before the LORD thy God year by year in the place which the LORD shall choose, thou and thy household.
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(20) Thou shalt eat it before the Lord thy God year by year.—This connects the eating of the firstlings with the “second” tithe (Deuteronomy 14:23), There is some difficulty in understanding the exact relation between this precept and that which assigns the firstlings to the priests (Numbers 18:15) with the first tithe. The practical solution is to be sought in the practice of the Jews. One suggestion is (that of Rashi), that “thou shalt eat” in this place refers to the priest; another is, that the firstlings without blemish were for the priest; those that were not fit for sacrifice were for the household of the owner. But it is perfectly conceivable that there was a collection of firstlings at one time of the year for the first tithe, and these were given to the priests. At the time of the collection of the second tithe, there might, and generally would, be other firstlings born since, and these, with the second tithe, would be disposed of in the manner indicated in these verses. And this, upon the whole, seems the most probable explanation. If two tithes were a regular institution, they must have been regularly collected at fixed times. And there might easily be firstlings in both of them; in fact, there almost certainly would be. At any rate, no contradiction can be maintained as between laws which were both observed in practice by the Jews. It appears from the Talmud, that tithes and offerings might be presented, more or less, at any of the three great feasts. They would not all be presented at one time. The tithes and first-fruits in some cases were liable to be delayed. The rule was, that everything due for three years last past must be cleared out of the establishment, and paid over to the proper authorities at the Feast of the Passover in the fourth and eighth years reckoned by the Sabbatical system. (See Deuteronomy 26:12-13, for more on this head.)

15:19-23 Here is a direction what to do with the firstlings. We are not now limited as the Israelites were; we make no difference between a first calf, or lamb, and the rest. Let us then look to the gospel meaning of this law, devoting ourselves and the first of our time and strength to God; and using all our comforts and enjoyments to his praise, and under the direction of his law, as we have them all by his gift.Compare Exodus 13:11 ff. The directions of the preceding legislation (see Numbers 18:15 ff) are here assumed, with the injunction added, that the animals thus set apart to God Deuteronomy 15:19 were not to be used by their owners for their earthly purposes. It is further allowed that firstborn animals which had a blemish should be regarded as exceptions, and instead of being given to God might be used as food Deuteronomy 15:21-22. The application of the firstborn of cattle is here directed as in Deuteronomy 12:6, Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 14:23 : they are to be consumed in the sacred Feasts at the sanctuary. 19. All the firstling males of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the Lord thy God—[See on [143]Ex 13:2]; see Ex 22:30).

thou shalt do not work with the firstling of thy bullock—that is, the second firstlings (see De 12:17, 18; 14:23).

Thou shalt eat; either,

1. Thou, O priest. Or rather,

2. Thou, O Israelite. For it is evident that the same person who was forbidden to work with these, Deu 15:19, is here commanded to eat them, &c. Thou shalt eat it, together with the Levites, as it is to be understood from Deu 12:18 14:27,29, where that is expressed in like cases.

Year by year, to wit, in the solemn feasts which returned upon them every year. See Deu 16:11,14.

Thou shalt eat it before the Lord thy God, year by year,.... Which, if understood of male firstlings, as in connection with the preceding verse, only priests might eat of them, being devoted to the Lord; so Jarchi says, to the priest he speaks; but if this respects the Israelites in common, then they must be understood either of female firstlings or second firstlings, which the people voluntarily separated, and which they were not to eat in their own houses:

but in the place which the Lord shall choose, which was the city of Jerusalem; see Deuteronomy 12:5,

thou and thy household; the household of the priest, as Aben Ezra interprets it; but if it designs the same as in Deuteronomy 12:17, then the Israelites and their families are meant.

Thou shalt eat it before the LORD thy God year by year in the place which the LORD shall choose, thou and thy household.
20. thou shalt eat it before the Lord thy God] See on Deuteronomy 12:7; Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 12:18.

year by year] At one of the feasts, probably the Passover, hence the place of this law of firstlings; in D immediately before that on the Passover, in Exodus 34:19 immediately after that on unleavened bread.

in the place, etc.] See on Deuteronomy 12:5; Deuteronomy 12:18.

thy household] including the local Levite, as explicitly stated in Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 12:18.

Deuteronomy 15:20Application of the first-born of Cattle. - From the laws respecting the poor and slaves, to which the instructions concerning the tithes (Deuteronomy 14:22-29) had given occasion, Moses returns to appropriation of the first-born of the herd and flock to sacrificial meals, which he had already touched upon in Deuteronomy 12:6, Deuteronomy 12:17, and Deuteronomy 14:23, and concludes by an explanation upon this point. The command, which the Lord had given when first they came out of Egypt (Exodus 13:2, Exodus 13:12), that all the first-born of the herd and flock should be sanctified to Him, is repeated here by Moses, with the express injunction that they were not to work with the first-born of cattle (by yoking them to the plough or waggon), and not to shear the first-born of sheep; that is to say, they were not to use the first-born animals which were sanctified to the Lord for their own earthly purposes, but to offer them year by year as sacrifices to the Lord, and consume them in sacrificial meals. To this he adds (Deuteronomy 15:21, Deuteronomy 15:22) that further provision, that first-born animals, which were blind or lame, or had any other bad fault, were not to be offered in sacrifice to the Lord, but, like ordinary animals used for food, could be eaten in all the towns of the land. Although the first part of this law was involved in the general laws as to the kind of animal that could be offered in sacrifice (Leviticus 22:19.), it was by no means unimportant to point out distinctly their applicability to the first-born, and add some instructions with regard to the way in which they were to be applied. (On Deuteronomy 15:22 and Deuteronomy 15:23, see Deuteronomy 12:15 and Deuteronomy 12:16.)
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