Appreciating the Gifts of the Land

Deuteronomy 26:1-15

Moses teaches the people what they are supposed to do with the bounty which God will give them when they enter the land. First, they are to bring their first fruits before God to the Tabernacle. There, they will be placed in a basket and laid before the altar. The farmer must proclaim his recognition that his produce is a gift from the God who took the people out of Egypt and brought them to the Promised Land. The farmer may then partake of these fruits in Jerusalem, celebrating with his family and others.

 

This declaration is the basis of the readings of the annual Passover seder, the traditional meal held on the first evening of the holiday. From these few verses, the sages expound the whole story of the Exodus from Egypt. One line in particular stands out. As the Israel Bible points out, the word vayareiu, which indicates the Egyptians treated the Israelites very badly, has the same letters as the Hebrew word for friendship, reiut. The Torah is thus subtly hinting that the Egyptians began their relationship with the Israelites through overtures of friendship. Only after time had passed did the anti-Semitism rear its head. This pattern has repeated itself throughout history, with nation after nation inviting the Jews in, then turning against them. Only the State of Israel, the Jewish homeland, can guarantee a safe haven for Jews for eternity.

 

At the end of the third year of each cycle, after tithing his produce, the farmer has an additional proclamation to make. He must declare that he has not neglected any of his tithes, and that he has distributed them in accordance with God’s command. He then asks for God’s continued blessings for himself and the entire nation.

 

Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think the declaration over the first fruits begins with the history of the nation of Israel, starting with Jacob (the wandering Aramean, verse 5)?

Comments ( 10 )

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  • Damian Sco

    Jacob being the father of the 12 tribes through his 12 sons would be the appropriate place to start so that Israel and not the nation derived from Abraham's other offshoot , would be the focus of the teachings. Furthermore the use of the basket of First Fruits reminds me of both how Moses arrived and also how the nation Israel arrived. There land did not start out with milk and honey but was a desert which waited for them to arrive. A basket of First Fruits in a land of desert reminds me of The Messiah 's coming, He being the First Fruit of a different kind . Just as this basket was full of sustenance from a land not yet known to produce any sustenance, The Messiah brought a different kind of sustenance , as we do not live by bread alone. And the third year being the year of the tithe reminds me of the three years the Messiah spent in the Holy land flowing with His brand of milk and honey for which our tithes were given as thankfulness for what this Messiah had done for us!

  • Here every Jew should show his gratefulness for the things HaShem has given to him. We started from scratch: No land of our own, so no fruits we could harvest.(this is the meaning of the “wandering Aramean”) Now they have land of their own. Formerly in Mitzraim mistreated and abused, suppressed. Now free men, free to sacrifice and bring the tithes from their own land to their Elohim, who had cared and watched over them all the way.

    • Susan Stano

      Amen.

  • So that Israel as a nation could be blessed, not merely as individuals. And it was from Jacob that the nation gets its name – Yisrael hence the need to mention Yacob the wandering Aramean while offering the first-fruit.

  • Is not Israel the first fruits chosen and where else than they should be than at the throne of their great King no other place than Jerusalem?

  • Jayne

    Beginning with the history of the nation of Israel identifies the people with it and makes them part of the story. I believe there is no word for ‘history’ in biblical Hebrew – it’s as if the people were part of their history.

  • Herman

    First of all: “Only the State of Israel, the Jewish homeland, can guarantee a safe haven for Jews for eternity.” I think that no one can guarantee but Hashem a safe haven for us. 🙂
    Gratefullnes is the basis of communication between G’d and us…..(?)

    • It’s true that gratitude is essential; it is, in fact, the point of this very declaration! However, this does not negate the point that only in the State of Israel can Jews be safe. It’s not necessarily because we are looking out for ourselves, but because we are in the land God wants us to be and He will protect us.

  • Linda

    Because Jacob was saved, blessed to go to Egypt with his sons. Because of the famine in the land. Then as years pass by, v6 the Egyptians mistreated them the Hebrew children Israel. v8 the Lord brought them out of Egypt and then gave them, the Hebrews, the land. The declaration, is a sign of thank you, or worship.

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