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Deuteronomy Chapter Twenty-six


Deuteronomy 26

Chapter Contents

Confession in offering the first-fruits. (1-11) The prayer after disposal of the third year's tithe. (12-15) The covenant between God and the people. (16-19)

Commentary on Deuteronomy 26:1-11

(Read Deuteronomy 26:1-11)

When God has made good his promises to us, he expects we should own it to the honour of his faithfulness. And our creature comforts are doubly sweet, when we see them flowing from the fountain of the promise. The person who offered his first-fruits, must remember and own the mean origin of that nation, of which he was a member. A Syrian ready to perish was my father. Jacob is here called a Syrian. Their nation in its infancy sojourned in Egypt as strangers, they served there as slaves. They were a poor, despised, oppressed people in Egypt; and though become rich and great, had no reason to be proud, secure, or forgetful of God. He must thankfully acknowledge God's great goodness to Israel. The comfort we have in our own enjoyments, should lead us to be thankful for our share in public peace and plenty; and with present mercies we should bless the Lord for the former mercies we remember, and the further mercies we expect and hope for. He must offer his basket of first-fruits. Whatever good thing God gives us, it is his will that we make the most comfortable use we can of it, tracing the streams to the Fountain of all consolation.

Commentary on Deuteronomy 26:12-15

(Read Deuteronomy 26:12-15)

How should the earth yield its increase, or, if it does, what comfort can we take in it, unless therewith our God gives us his blessing? All this represented the covenant relation between a reconciled God and every true believer, and the privileges and duties belonging to it. We must be watchful, and show that according to the covenant of grace in Christ Jesus, the Lord is our God, and we are his people, waiting in his appointed way for the performance of his gracious promises.

Commentary on Deuteronomy 26:16-19

(Read Deuteronomy 26:16-19)

Moses here enforces the precepts. They are God's laws, therefore thou shalt do them, to that end were they given thee; do them, and dispute them not; do them, and draw not back; do them, not carelessly and hypocritically, but with thy heart and soul, thy whole heart and thy whole soul. We forswear ourselves, and break the most sacred engagement, if, when we have taken the Lord to be our God, we do not make conscience of obeying his commands. We are elected to obedience, 1 Peter 1:2; chosen that we should be holy, Ephesians 1:4; purified a peculiar people, that we might not only do good works, but be zealous in them, Titus 2:14. Holiness is true honour, and the only way to everlasting honour.

── Matthew HenryConcise Commentary on Deuteronomy


Deuteronomy 26

Verse 2

[2] 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.

Thou shalt take — This seems to be required of each master of a family, either upon his first settlement, or once every year at one of their three feasts, when they were obliged to go up to Jerusalem.

Verse 5

[5] 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:

A Syrian — So Jacob was, partly by his original, as being born of Syrian parents, as were Abraham and Rebecca, both of Chaldea or Mesopotamia, which was a part of Syria largely so called, partly by his education and conversation; and partly by his relations, his wives being such, and his children too by their mother's.

Ready to perish — Either through want and poverty; (See Genesis 28:11,20; 32:10,) or through the rage of his brother Esau, and the treachery of his father-in-law Laban.

Verse 10

[10] 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:

It — The basket of first-fruits, Deuteronomy 26:2.

Verse 11

[11] 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.

Thou shalt rejoice — Thou shalt hereby enabled to take comfort in all thy employments, when thou hast sanctified them by giving God his portion. It is the will of God, that we should be chearful 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.

Verse 12

[12] 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;

The year of tithing — Heb. the year of that tithe, so called, either 1. because these tithes were gathered only in that year. Or rather, 2. because then only they were so bestowed; and whereas these second tithes for two years together were eaten only by the owners and Levites, and that in Jerusalem, in the third year they were eaten also by the strangers, fatherless, and widows, and that in their own dwellings.

Verse 13

[13] 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:

Before the Lord — In thy private addresses to God; for this is to be said presently upon the distribution of these tithes, which was not done at Jerusalem, but in their own private gates or dwellings. And this is to be spoken before the Lord, that is, solemnly, seriously, and in a religious manner, with due respect to God's presence, and will, and glory.

Verse 14

[14] 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.

In my mourning — In sorrow, or grieving that I was to give away so much of my profits to the poor, but I have chearfully eaten and feasted with them, as I was obliged to do.

Unclean use — For any common use; for any other use than that which thou hast appointed, which would have been a pollution of them.

For the dead — For any funeral pomp or service; for the Jews used 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 the use of these tithes in such cases had been a double fault, both the defiling of sacred food, and the employing those provisions upon sorrowful occasions, which by God's express command were to be eaten with rejoicing.

Verse 15

[15] 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.

Look down — After that solemn profession of their obedience to God's commands, they are taught to pray for God's blessing whereby they are instructed how vain and ineffectual the prayers of unrighteous or disobedient persons are.

Verse 17

[17] 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:

Avouched — Or, declared, or owned.

Verse 18

[18] 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;

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.

── John WesleyExplanatory Notes on Deuteronomy


The Firstfruits (Deut.26:2)


I.  What the Offerers brought vs.1~4

   1. Firstfruits—Quality of the Gift, the best (v.2)

   2 .In a Basket—Quantity of the Gift, limited (v.2)

   3 .Unto the Place—Place of giving, the Lord’s choice (v.2)

   4 .Unto the Priest—Presentation of the Gift (v.3)

II. What the Offerers said vs. 5~10

   There was—

   1. Remembrance of the their former condition (v.5)

   2. Recognition of God’s goodness (v.7)

   3 .Review of God’s deliverance (v.8)

   4 .Rejoicing in God’s provision (v.9)

III. What the offerers did vs. 10, 11

   Set their offering before the Lord

   Worshipped before the Lord

   Rejoiced before the Lord



26 Chapter 26


Verse 5

Deuteronomy 26:5

A Syrian ready to perish was my father.

Humiliation in connection with gratitude

Such was the confession required of every priest of Israel when he presented, before the altar, the offering of first-fruits. It was, therefore, in the midst of abundance, a memorial of former destitution, and an acknowledgment of utter unworthiness, under circumstances of peculiar obligation. The text is capable of divers renderings; but take whichever we may, the lesson is the same. It teaches us, that when the Divine promises are all fulfilled, and our salvation is complete, we are still to remember the past (Isaiah 51:1). The connection between acceptable thanksgiving and profound humiliation is a fact which none but a Pharisee would dare to disregard, and which it behoves the Christian to bear in mind in all his devout meditations and religious exercises. Should pride ever rise within his bosom--“Who maketh thee to differ?” is a consideration which may suffice to put it down: nor will he, if walking in the fear of God, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, when, by virtue of his “royal priesthood,” he has “boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus,” forget to say there--“A Syrian ready to perish was my father.” The natural philosopher may rejoice that he is not a brute, and a pagan may glory in the attributes peculiar to man, but the devout student learns some very humbling facts concerning the position of our race. Among the rest is this, that, of intelligent beings, man is probably the lowest in the scale. That angels excel us in strength is obvious from everything we know concerning them; and that devils have far greater intellectual power than belongs to man, none acquainted with their devices will be disposed to question. To boast of our mental superiority, then, is but to mingle ignorance with pride. The humiliation which these considerations may be supposed to engender is deepened by the recollection, that our case is not one of poverty alone, but of degradation. Whatever may have been man’s original glory, that glory has long since departed. His boast of heraldry is vain; traced back to its earliest antiquity, it bespeaks his ruin. His crest is an inverted crown. And this is his motto--“Man that was in honour abode not.” The grace of God works wonders. It copes with depravity, and subdues it. It rescues the sinner from his degradation, and renders him meet to be a partaker of the inheritance of the saints in light. But it also teaches him never to forget, even amidst the splendours of the heavenly temple, to which it ultimately introduces him, the ancient acknowledgment of the adoring Israelite--“A Syrian ready to perish was my father.” (D. E. Ford.)

Verse 11

Deuteronomy 26:11

Thou shalt rejoice in every good thing.

Rejoice in every good thing

It is our duty to give unstinted welcome to every visit of enjoyment with which we may be favoured. We frequently allow streams of refreshment or exhilaration to run past us without dipping into or tasting them; we blunderingly overlook many a cup of soothing and pleasing that is offered to us as we go trudging by. We are slow to discover and seize our golden chances, and hardly know how to make the most of them. At times we are afraid, it would seem, pausing now and then to squeeze a drop or two of severe or melancholy reflection into the goblet, as if there might be sin in having it too rich and sweet. The angel descending to solace us in our Gethsemane with a brief pleasant thrill, with a brief glimpse and gust of pleasure, flashes by under the sombre, wailing olives in vain, is allowed to vanish unharboured and un-utilised.

I. Never turn, in your bitterness of spirit, from any ministry of temporal enjoyment that may intervene; never be so wedded to your woes, so shut up and sunk down in them, that you cannot issue forth to accept such ministry. For, remember, we want to be made joyful for our education quite as much as we need to be tried and troubled. To laugh, to luxuriate, to ripple and glow with delight, at times is just as essential for us as it is at times to weep and suffer.

II. At times some of us may have had the feeling that there is so much misery in the world that it is hardly right to ignore and forget it for a moment in rejoicing. But let us reflect that, since God is our Father and we His children, we are justified in losing sight of trouble for a time when He gives us a joy to taste. Being only a child, however, I must feel about His world, and share in His travail concerning it; I need not be afraid at intervals to cast the entire load upon Him and let Him carry it alone. Souls must turn aside at times to bask in what sunshine they can find, and be mellowed, and warmed, and raised with it, in order to be of service in the darkness and to help to soften and relieve. (S. A. Tipple.)

Rejoice with a rejoicing universe

Rejoice with the morning stars, and let your adoring spirit march to the music of hymning spheres. Rejoice with the jocund spring in its gush of hope, and its dancing glory, with its swinging insect clouds and its suffusion of multitudinous song; and rejoice with golden autumn, as he rustles his grateful sheaves, and clasps his purple hands, as he breathes his story of fruition, his anthem of promises fulfilled; as he breathes it softly in the morning stillness of ripened fields, or flings it in AEolian sweeps from lavish orchards and from branches tossing bounty into mellow winds. Rejoice with infancy, as it guesses its wondering way into more and more existence, and laughs and carols as the field of pleasant life enlarges on it, and new secrets of delight flow in through fresh and open senses. Rejoice with the second youth of the heaven-born soul, as the revelations of a second birth pour in upon it, and the glories of a new world amaze it. Rejoice with the joyful believer when he sings, “O Lord! I will praise Thee; though Thou wast angry with me, Thine anger is turned away, and Thou comfortedst me. Behold, God is my salvation.” Rejoice with him whose incredulous ecstasy has alighted on the great Gospel secret, whoso eye is beaming as none can beam save that which for the first time beholds the Lamb; whose awe-struck countenance and uplifted hands are evidently exclaiming, “This is my beloved, and this is my friend.” Rejoice with saints and angels, as they rejoice in a sight like this. Rejoice with Immanuel, whose soul now sees of its travail. Rejoice with the ever blessed Three, and with a heaven whose work is joy. “Be glad in the Lord, and rejoice, ye righteous; and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.” (J. Hamilton.)

──The Biblical Illustrator