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  • THE TEMPLE - CH. 19 - B

    Rabbinical Regulations

    To prevent even the accidental removal of hair, the Rabbis forbade the use of a comb (Naz. vi. 3). According to the Law, defilement from death annulled the previous time of the vow, and necessitated certain offerings. To this the Mishnah adds, that if anyhow the hair were cut, it annulled the previous time of a vow up to thirty days (the period of an indefinite vow), while it is curiously determined that the use of anything coming from the vine did not interrupt the vow. Another Rabbinical contravention of the spirit of the law was to allow Nazarites the use of all intoxicating liquors other than what came from the vine (such as palm-wine, etc.). Lastly, the Mishnah determines that a master could not annul the Nazarite vow of his slave; and that, if he prevented him from observing it, the slave was bound to renew it on attaining his liberty. The offerings of a Nazarite on the completion of his vow are explicitly described in Numbers 6:13- 21. Along with the 'ram without blemish for peace-offerings,' he had to bring 'a basket of unleavened bread, cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil,' as well as the ordinary 'meat-offering and their drink offerings' (Num 6:14,15). The Rabbis explain, that the 'unleavened bread,' to accompany 'the peace-offerings,' was to be made of six-tenth deals and two-thirds of a tenth deal of flour, which were to be baked into ten unleavened cakes and ten unleavened wafers, all anointed with the fourth part of a log of oil; and that all this 'bread' was to be offered in one vessel, or 'basket.' The sin-offering was first brought, then the burnt-, and last of all the peace-offering. In the Court of the Women there was a special Nazarite's chamber. After the various sacrifices had been offered by the priest, the Nazarite retired to this chamber, where he boiled the flesh of his peace-offerings, cut off his hair, and threw it in the fire under the caldron. If he had already cut off his hair before coming to Jerusalem, he must still bring it with him, and cast it in the fire under the caldron; so that whether or not we understand Acts 18:18 as stating that Paul himself had taken a vow, he might have cut off his hair at Cenchrea (Acts 18:18), and brought it with him to Jerusalem. After that the priest waved the offering, as detailed in Numbers 6:19, 20, * and the fat was salted, and burned upon the altar.

    * This part of the service was the same as at the consecration of the priests (Lev 8:26).

    The breast, the fore-leg, the boiled shoulder, and the waved cake and wafer, belonged to the priests--the remaining bread and meat were eaten by the Nazarite. Lastly, the expression, 'besides that that his hand shall get,' after mention of the other offerings (Num 6:21), seems to imply that the Nazarites were also wont to bring free-will offerings.

    Scripture mentions three Nazarites for life: Samson, Samuel, and John the Baptist, to which Christian tradition adds the name of James the Just, 'the brother of the Lord,' who presided over the Church at Jerusalem when Paul joined in the Nazarite-offering (Eusebius, Eccl. Hist. ii. 23. 3). In this respect it is noteworthy that, among those who urged upon Paul to 'be at charges' with the four Christian Nazarites, James himself is not specially mentioned (Acts 21:20-25).

    Offering the Firstfruits

    2. Properly speaking, the offering of the firstfruits belonged to the class of religious and charitable contributions, and falls within our present scope only in so far as certain of them had to be presented in the Temple at Jerusalem. Two of these firstfruit offerings were public and national; viz. the first omer, on the second day of the Passover, and the wave-loaves at Pentecost. The other two kinds of 'firstfruits'--or Reshith, 'the first, the beginning'--were offered on the part of each family and of every individual who had possession in Israel, according to the Divine directions in Exodus 22:29; 23:19; 34:26; Numbers 15:20, 21; 18:12, 13; Deuteronomy 18:4; and Deuteronomy 26:2-11, where the ceremonial to be observed in the Sanctuary is also described. Authorities distinguish between the Biccurim (primitiva), or firstfruits offered in their natural state, and the Terumoth (primitiae), brought not as raw products, but in a prepared state,--as flour, oil, wine, etc. *

    * In our Authorised Version 'Terumah' is generally rendered by 'heave-offering,' as in Exodus 29:27; Leviticus 7:14, 32, 34; Numbers 15:19; 18:8, 11; 31:41; and sometimes simply by 'offering,' as in Exodus 25:2; 30:13; 35:5; 36:3, 6: Leviticus 22:12; Numbers 5:9.

    The distinction is convenient, but not strictly correct, since the Terumoth also included vegetables and garden produce (Ter. ii. 5; iii. 1; x. 5). Still less accurate is the statement of modern writers that the Greek term Protogennemata corresponds to Biccurim, and Aparchai to Terumoth, an assertion not even supported by the use of those words in the version of the Septuagint, which is so deeply tinged with traditionalism.

    The Biccurim and Terumoth

    Adopting, however, the distinction of the terms, for convenience sake, we find that the Biccurim (primitiva) were only to be brought while there was a national Sanctuary (Exo 23:19; Deut 26:2; Neh 10:35). Similarly, they must be the produce of the Holy Land itself, in which, according to tradition, were included the ancient territories of Og and Sihon, as well as that part of Syria which David had subjugated. On the other hand, both the tithes * and the Terumoth were also obligatory on Jews in Egypt, Babylon, Ammon, and Moab.

    * The Mishnah (Bicc. i. 10) expressly mentions 'the olive-trees beyond Jordan,' although R. Joses declared that Biccurim were not brought from east of Jordan, since it was not a land flowing with milk and honey (Deut 26:15)!

    The Biccurim were only presented in the Temple, and belonged to the priesthood there officiating at the time, while the Terumoth might be given to any priest in any part of the land. The Mishnah holds that, as according to Deuteronomy 8:8 only the following seven were to be regarded as the produce of the Holy Land, from them alone Biccurim were due: viz. wheat, barley, grapes, figs, pomegranates, olives, and dates. *

    * The expression 'honey' in Deuteronomy 8:8 must refer to the produce of the date-palm.

    If the distance of the offerer from Jerusalem was too great, the figs and grapes might be brought in a dried state. The amount of the Biccurim was not fixed in the Divine Law, any more than of the wheat which was to be left in the corners of the fields in order to be gleaned by the poor. *

    * The Mishnah enumerates five things of which the amount is not fixed in the Law (Peah, i. 1): the corners of the field for the poor; the Biccurim; the sacrifices on coming up to the feasts; pious works, on which, however, not more than one-fifth of one's property was to be spent; and the study of the Law (Josh 1:8). Similarly, 'these are the things of which a man eats the fruit in this world, but their possession passes into the next world (literally, "the capital continueth for the next," as in this world we only enjoy the interest): to honor father and mother, pious works, peacemaking between a man and his neighbor, and the study of the Law, which is equivalent to them all.' In Shab. 127, a, six such things are mentioned.

    But according to the Rabbis in both these cases one-sixtieth was to be considered as the minimum. From Exodus 23:16 and Leviticus 23:16, 17, it was argued that the Biccurim were not to be brought to Jerusalem before Pentecost; nor yet were they to be offered later than the Feast of the Dedication of the Temple. If given at any other time than between Pentecost and the 25th Kislev, the regular service was not gone through at their presentation. Before describing this, we add a few particulars about the Terumoth. In regard to them it was said that 'a fine eye' (a liberal man) 'gives one-fortieth,' 'an evil eye' (a covetous person) 'one-sixtieth,' while the average rate of contribution--'a middling eye'--was to give one-fiftieth, or two per cent. The same proportion we may probably also set down as that of the Biccurim. Indeed, the Rabbis have derived from this the word Terumah, as it were Terei Mimeah, 'two out of a hundred.' In the class Terumoth we may also include the Reshith or 'first of the fleece' (Deut 18:11); which, according to the Mishnah (Chol. xi. 1, 2), had to be given by every one who possessed at least five sheep, and amounted, without dust or dirt, as a minimum, to five Judean, or ten Galilean, shekel weight of pure wool (one Judean, or sacred shekel = to under two hundred and seventy-four Parisian grains); and, further, the Reshith Challah, or 'first of the dough' (Num 15:18-21), * which, if the dough was used for private consumption, was fixed by the Rabbis at one-twenty-fourth, if for sale at one-forty-eighth, while if it were made for non-Israelites, it was not taxed at all. The Rabbis have it that the 'first of the dough' was only due from wheat, barley, casmin, oats, and rye, but not if the dough has been made of other esculents, such as rice, etc.

    * The Mishnah lays down varying rules as to the amount of the Challah in different places outside Palestine (Chal. iv. 8).

    Of course, neither tithes, nor Biccurim, nor Terumoth, were to be given of what already belonged to the Lord, nor of what was not fairly the property of a person. Thus if only the trees, but not the land in which they grew, belonged to a man, he would not give firstfruits. If convert, stewards, women, or slaves brought firstfruits, the regular service was not gone through, since such could not have truthfully said either one or other of these verses (Deut 26:3,10): 'I am come to the country which the Lord sware to our fathers to give us'; or, 'I have brought the firstfruits of the land which Thou, O Lord, hast given me.' According to Leviticus 19:23-25, for three years the fruits of a newly-planted tree were to remain unused, while in the fourth year they were, according to the Rabbis, to be eaten in Jerusalem.

    Biccurim, Terumoth, and what was to be left in the 'corners' of the fields for the poor were always set apart before the tithing was made. If the offering of 'firstfruits' had been neglected, one-fifth was to be added when they were brought. Thus the prescribed religious contributions of every Jewish layman at the time of the second Temple were as follows: Biccurim and Terumoth, say two percent; from the 'first of the fleece,' at least five shekels' weight; from the 'first of the dough,' say four per cent; 'corners of the fields' for the poor, say two per cent; the first, or Levitical tithe, ten per cent; the second, or festival tithe, to be used at the feasts in Jerusalem, and in the third and sixth years to be the 'poor's tithe,' ten per cent; the firstling of all animals, either in kind or money- value; five shekels for every first-born son, provided he were the first child of his mother, and free of blemish; and the half-shekel of the Temple-tribute. Together, these amounted to certainly more than the fourth of the return which an agricultural population would have. And it is remarkable, that the Law seems to regard Israel as intended to be only an agricultural people--no contribution being provided for from trade or merchandise. Besides these prescribed, there were, of course, all manner of voluntary offerings, pious works, and, above all, the various sacrifices which each, according to his circumstances or piety, would bring in the Temple at Jerusalem.


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