Speak to the children of Israel, and say to them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which you shall proclaim to be holy convocations…
I. POLITICAL EFFECTS. Annual gatherings of the people exhibited the numerical strength of the nation. As they went "from strength to strength," i.e., from company to company (Psalm 84:7 marg.), on their way to Jerusalem, and saw the vast crowds flocking from all parts of the kingdom to the capital, their patriotic ardour would be fired. The unity of the nation, too, would be ensured by this fusion of the tribes. Otherwise they would be likely to constitute separate tribal states. They would carry back to the provinces glowing accounts of the wealth, power, and resources of the country.
II. SANITARY EFFECTS. They would greatly influence the health of the people. The Sabbath, necessitating weekly cleansings, and rest from work, and laws and ceremonies concerning disease (as leprosy) and purifications, deserve to be looked at in this light also. The annual purifying of the houses at Feast of Unleavened Bread; the dwelling at certain times in tents — leaving the houses to the free circulation of light and air; and the repeated journey on foot to Jerusalem, must have had a great sanitary influence. As man was the great object of creation, so his welfare — in many respects besides religion — was plainly aimed at in these regulations.
III. SOCIAL EFFECTS. Promoted friendly intercourse between travelling companions. Distributed information through the country at a time when the transmission of news was slow and imperfect. Imported into remote provincial districts a practical knowledge of all improvements in arts and sciences. Enlarged the general stock of knowledge by bringing many minds and great variety of taste together. Spread before the eyes of the nation the wonders collected in Jerusalem by the wealth and foreign alliances of Jewish kings.
IV. MORAL EFFECTS. The young looking forward to, the aged looking back upon, and all talking about past or future pilgrimages to the city of the great King. Education, thus, of memory and hope and desire. Influence of this on the habits of the people. Thrift promoted to provide against expenses of the journey. The promise of bearing company held out as reward to well-conducted youth. Enlargement of knowledge, improvement of taste, advantage to health, fixing habits, etc., would all react morally on the character of the people.
V. RELIGIOUS EFFECTS. These the most important. Preserved the religious faith of the nation, and religious unity among the people. Constantly reminded the people of the Divinely wrought deliverances of the past. Promoted gratitude and trust. Testified the reverence of the people for the Temple and its sacred contents. Influence of well-conducted Temple services upon the synagogues through the land. Led the mind of the nation to adore the one true and only God.
(J. C. Gray.)
Parallel VersesKJV: Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts.