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JEWS CARRYING THE FIRST-FRUITS TO
JERUSALEM. How wonderful are the arrangements, by which our gracious Creator supplies the daily wants of his great family! In every season of the year, we have abundant proofs of God's kindness towards the children of men. But especially these are manifested in the season when the fruits of the earth are reaped and garnered, and when our ample ricks, barns, and storehouses, testify that God has provided a plentiful supply for feeding man, and the lower orders of living creatures.
Our heavenly Father has this year granted unto us a very abundant harvest.
The crops of grain have been much more than usually good. From the great abundance of corn, bread has become cheaper, and the poor can thus obtain a larger share of those things that are needful to their comfort and support. We ought therefore to praise the Lord for his goodness; ever remembering that “the earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof; " that he causeth the earth to bring forth her increase ; sendeth fruitful showers, causeth the sun to shine which warms the earth, and ripens its fruits; and giveth the appointed weeks of harvest. The Psalmist truly says, “ He openeth his hand and supplieth all things living with plenteousness.” We may well say, as David said, “O that men would praise the Lord for his goodness, for his wonderful works to the children of men !
The Jews were directed by Jehovah to acknowledge their dependence on Him, and their gratitude for the fruits of the earth, by presenting to the priests, as God's ministering servants, the first-fruits of the harvest. God directed Moses to say to the Jewish nation.-" The first of the first-fruits of thy land, thou shalt bring into the house of the Lord thy God.” Exodus xxiii. 19. Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, when ye be come into the land which I give unto you, and shall reap the harvest thereof, then ye shall bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest unto the priest ; and he shall wave the sheaf before the Lord, to be accepted for you.” Leviticus xxiii. 10. “And the Lord spake unto Moses saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land whither I bring you, then it shall be, that when ye eat of the bread of the land, ye shall offer up an heave offering unto the Lord. Ye shall offer up a cake of the first of your dough for an heave offering ; as ye do the heave offering of the threshing floor,
ye heave it. Of the first of your dough ye shall give unto the Lord an heave offering in your generations.” Numbers xv. 18, 21. "And it shall be when thou art come into the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance and possessest it, and dwellest therein ; that thou shalt take of the first of all the fruits 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 put 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. And the priest shall take the basket out of thine hand, and set it down before the altar of the Lord
JEWS CARRYING THE FIRST-FRUITS TO JERUSALEM.
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 ; 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 first-fruits 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 xxvi. 1–10.
Thus did the Lord require the children of Israel to bring to him of their first-fruits. They had to bring the first-fruits of their grapes, of their corn, and of their flocks, and to present them unto the priests; and thus to acknowledge that God is the bountiful Giver of all good things. They were required to bring first-fruits of corn in the sheaf. Leviticus xxiii. 10. They were required to present heave-offerings, as first-fruits of the threshing-floor, when they began to thresh out the corn. Numbers xv. 10. Also as first-fruits, two wave-loaves of bread. Leviticus xxiii. 17. The sheaves were presented at the beginning, and the loaves at the end of the corn harvest.
We are told by Jewish writers, that in the baskets which contained the first-fruits were, pisually, wheat, barley, olives, dates, pomegranates, and figs. Wine, oil, and wool, were also presented as first-fruits.
These thankofferings were for the use of the priests who served in the house of the Lord. We are also told that, when the people brought up their first-fruits to Jerusalem, it was done with great pomp and ceremony. All the persons coming from cities within a prescribed circuit,came together into one city, and lodged there. In the morning, a voice was heard,
saying, Arise, let us go up to Zion to the house of the Lord our God.” The players on musical instruments went before ; an ox with gilded horns decorated with olives, and the bearers of the baskets of first-fruits followed. When they came nigh to Jerusalem, they uncovered the baskets and exposed the fruits to view, so that their quality might be admired. The high-officers, and treasurers of the temple went out to meet the bearers of the firstfruits. Many of the people of Jerusalem also went to meet them. and they were received with greetings in this manner, “O our brethren, inhabitants of the city of
ye are welcome ! ” Every one, even the king himself, carried his basket upon his shoulder to the house of the Lord. The Levites then sang, “ I will extol thee, O Lord, because thou hast exalted me, and hast not made mine enemies to rejoice over me.” The person presenting the first-fruits, while carrying the basket, would begin to say, “I profess this day to the Lord my God,” &c. Deut. xxvi. 3—5. He then would pause, and put down his basket; and the priest would wave it about, as a waveoffering. Then the words after the fifth to the tenth verses of the last-named chapter were said--and then the offerer would place his basket before the altar, and reverently retire. The persons bringing first-fruits to the temple had to remain in Jerusalem the following night; after which they were allowed to return home.
The law did not prescribe the quantity that was to be presented as first-fruits. We are told by Jewish writers, that a fortieth of the produce belonging to the offerer was considered a liberal amount to present, but that a sixtieth part was regarded as less than should have been given. The law also required that the first-born, both of man and of beasts, should be offered unto the Lord—but the first-|| born of man was to be redeemed by presenting a sum not exceeding five shekels to the treasury of the Lord's house. A shekel of silver was equal in value to between two and three shillings of English money.
The presentation of the first-fruits, as formerly required under the law, is a service which is no longer requuired ;
for the Jewish dispensation has been set aside by the appearing of Christ. But we ought not to forget that God still requires us to remember that he is our benefactor, that we derive all temporal as well as all spiritual blessings from him, and that he requires us to give as he prospers us, to support the services of religion, and to feed the hungry, and render aid to those who are in want.
Especially God requires that the first-fruits of our lives, should be devoted to his fear, honour, and glory. We hope that our readers will remember this, and earnestly pray to God, that they may have grace now to give their hearts to God. We entreat our young friends to present the first-fruits of their lives to God, by engaging in his service, and making it to be their constant endeavour to know and do the will of God. A poet has justly said, in reference to early piety
“ A flower, when offered in the bud,
Is no mean sacrifice."
THE CONVERTED SAILOR BOY. EDWARD BEECHHILL was the only son of a farmer, who lived in the neighbourhood of Dunse, and who was esteemed by those who knew him as a person of strong sense and sound principle, and as being possessed of a warm heart and an open hand. From his cradle, young Beechhill was a wayward boy. Perhaps he was not always properly managed; for his mother, who loved him to excess, would often hide his faults from his father ; who, from an over-anxiety to see his son a reputable member of society, as well as a good Christian, suffered himself at times to be surprised into undue fits of passion with his offending child, and was apt at seasons to punish him with rigour. There was no day that marked the bent of Edward's mind more than the Sabbath,-a day, the duties of which his father observed with scrupulous exactness. To young Beechhill, the Sabbath was a season