King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Leviticus 23

The feasts of the Lord, The Sabbath. (1-3) The Passover, The offering of first-fruits. (4-14) The feast of Pentecost. (15-22) The feast of Trumpets, The day of atonement. (23-32) The feast of Tabernacles. (33-44)

Leviticus 23 Audio:

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The feasts of the Lord, The Sabbath

1 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

2 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.

3 Six days shall work be done: but the seventh day is the sabbath of rest, an holy convocation; ye shall do no work therein: it is the sabbath of the LORD in all your dwellings.

The Passover, The offering of first-fruits

4 These are the feasts of the LORD, even holy convocations, which ye shall proclaim in their seasons.

5 In the fourteenth day of the first month at even is the LORD’s passover.

6 And on the fifteenth day of the same month is the feast of unleavened bread unto the LORD: seven days ye must eat unleavened bread.

7 In the first day ye shall have an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

8 But ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD seven days: in the seventh day is an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

9 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

10 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:

11 And he shall wave the sheaf before the LORD, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the sabbath the priest shall wave it.

12 And ye shall offer that day when ye wave the sheaf an he lamb without blemish of the first year for a burnt offering unto the LORD.

13 And the meat offering thereof shall be two tenth deals of fine flour mingled with oil, an offering made by fire unto the LORD for a sweet savour: and the drink offering thereof shall be of wine, the fourth part of an hin.

14 And ye shall eat neither bread, nor parched corn, nor green ears, until the selfsame day that ye have brought an offering unto your God: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

The feast of Pentecost

15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath, from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:

16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.

17 Ye shall bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenth deals; they shall be of fine flour; they shall be baken with leaven; they are the firstfruits unto the LORD.

18 And ye shall offer with the bread seven lambs without blemish of the first year, and one young bullock, and two rams: they shall be for a burnt offering unto the LORD, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings, even an offering made by fire, of sweet savour unto the LORD.

19 Then ye shall sacrifice one kid of the goats for a sin offering, and two lambs of the first year for a sacrifice of peace offerings.

20 And the priest shall wave them with the bread of the firstfruits for a wave offering before the LORD, with the two lambs: they shall be holy to the LORD for the priest.

21 And ye shall proclaim on the selfsame day, that it may be an holy convocation unto you: ye shall do no servile work therein: it shall be a statute for ever in all your dwellings throughout your generations.

22 And when ye reap the harvest of your land, thou shalt not make clean riddance of the corners of thy field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the stranger: I am the LORD your God.

The feast of Trumpets, The day of atonement

23 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

24 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, In the seventh month, in the first day of the month, shall ye have a sabbath, a memorial of blowing of trumpets, an holy convocation.

25 Ye shall do no servile work therein: but ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

26 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

27 Also on the tenth day of this seventh month there shall be a day of atonement: it shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall afflict your souls, and offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD.

28 And ye shall do no work in that same day: for it is a day of atonement, to make an atonement for you before the LORD your God.

29 For whatsoever soul it be that shall not be afflicted in that same day, he shall be cut off from among his people.

30 And whatsoever soul it be that doeth any work in that same day, the same soul will I destroy from among his people.

31 Ye shall do no manner of work: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations in all your dwellings.

32 It shall be unto you a sabbath of rest, and ye shall afflict your souls: in the ninth day of the month at even, from even unto even, shall ye celebrate your sabbath.

The feast of Tabernacles

33 And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,

34 Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the feast of tabernacles for seven days unto the LORD.

35 On the first day shall be an holy convocation: ye shall do no servile work therein.

36 Seven days ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: on the eighth day shall be an holy convocation unto you; and ye shall offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD: it is a solemn assembly; and ye shall do no servile work therein.

37 These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:

38 Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.

39 Also in the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when ye have gathered in the fruit of the land, ye shall keep a feast unto the LORD seven days: on the first day shall be a sabbath, and on the eighth day shall be a sabbath.

40 And ye shall take you on the first day the boughs of goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and the boughs of thick trees, and willows of the brook; and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days.

41 And ye shall keep it a feast unto the LORD seven days in the year. It shall be a statute for ever in your generations: ye shall celebrate it in the seventh month.

42 Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths:

43 That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

44 And Moses declared unto the children of Israel the feasts of the LORD.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 2. Holy. The Heb. Chal. and Sept. add, “and meet together; or, these are my feasts of assembly.” On these days the people were called together to hear the word of God, &c. M.

Ver. 3. Sabbath. Heb. “the rest of rest;” a day in which no unnecessary servile work must be done, no more than on the great holidays, v. 6. 8. H. — Called holy, because it shall be really so: in which sense the word is often used. Isai. ix. 6. &c. — Day; you must not even dress meat, which was also forbidden on the day of expiation. — Lord, on which he ceased from work, and which you must keep in his honour. — Habitations. In the temple, the priests were intent upon sacrificing, which was indeed a material, but not a formal, violation of the sabbath. Matt. xii. 5.

Ver. 6. Bread. The obligation of eating none but this sort of bread began at the second evening of the 14th, which was the beginning of the 15th of Nisan. Ex. xii. 6. 12. M.

Ver. 8. In fire. Sept. “holocausts,” extraordinary ones, besides the daily burnt-offerings. Num. xxviii. 19. — More holy than the five intermediate days, on which servile work was allowed. In this and the former verse, more and most are not specified in the Heb. and Sept. C.

Ver. 10. Land of Chanaan, at which time these feasts began to be observed. M. See Lev. ii. 14. — Before the harvest commenced, first-fruits were offered to the Lord. A gomer containing about three pints of barley was given to the priests, by the nation at large, as each individual was not bound to make a particular solemn offering. The judges deputed three men to gather this barley on the evening of the 15th Nisan, where the neighbourhood assembled near Jerusalem. It was gathered by them in three different fields, after having been thrice assured that the sun was set, and that they had leave to reap, in answer to their triple demands on each head. Then they placed the ears in three boxes, which they brought to the court of the sanctuary, and having ground the barley, and poured a log of oil and an handful of incense upon it, presented it to the priest, who heaving it in the form of a cross, threw as much as he could hold in his hand upon the altar, and kept the rest for himself. Joseph. iii. 10. &c. Private people offered also in kind or in money their first-fruits, or between the 40th and the 60th part of what their land produced. This custom is almost as ancient as the world, (Gen. iv. 3,) and we may say that it forms a part of natural religion, which all nations have observed. Porphyrius esteems it an impiety to neglect it. He says that the Thoes, living on the borders of Thrace, were in a moment destroyed, because they offered neither sacrifices nor first-fruits. De Abstin. ii. 7. The ancient Romans and Greeks were very punctual in this respect. Plin. xviii. 20. Those officers who collected this first-fruits among the latter were styled Parasites. Many of the festivals among the heathens, occurred at the end of harvest. Aristot. ad Nicom. viii. The Jews might reap their wheat, but they could not taste it, before they had offered the first-fruits, at Pentecost. C. xxiii. 17. Ex. xxiii. 16. — Of ears. Hebrew homor, or gomer, “a sheaf,” denotes also a measure, which was called an assaron, containing almost three pints.

Ver. 11. Sabbath. Onkelos has “the good day,” from which the fifty days of Pentecost were counted. C.

Ver. 14. Corn (polentam). Some translate bruised corn, or a sort of cake. See C. ii. 4. — Dwellings, even out of the holy land, which was peculiar to this law. Grotius.

Ver. 15. Sabbath. Not the ninth day of the week, but the first day of the Passover; from the morrow of which seven weeks or 49 days were reckoned; and the next day was Pentecost. M. — They began, therefore, to count on the 16th of Nisan, and end on the 6th of the third month Sivan. All the intermediate days took their denomination from this second day of the Passover; so that the next Saturday was called the first sabbath after the second day; in Greek Deuteroproton, the second-first; (Lu. vi. 1,) a term which had puzzled all the interpreters until Jos. Scaliger made this discovery. Emend. 6. The Samaritans count from the day after that sabbath which follows the Passover; so that if the festival fall on Monday, they celebrate Pentecost later than the Jews. See their Letter to Huntington. C.

Ver. 16. Sacrifice. Heb. mincha, which relates to the offerings of corn and liquors. Two loaves of wheaten flour leavened, were presented probably by the nation. This festival was instituted in memory of the law being given from Mount Sinai, which was a figure of the law of grace promulgated by the Holy Ghost and by the apostles, on the day of Pentecost. C.

Ver. 17. Loaves. The Protestants supply wave loaves, (H.) though their Heb. text has nothing. The Sam. is more correct. Houbigant.

Ver. 18. Lambs. More were prescribed. Num. xxviii. 27. Josephus joins all together. (B. iii. 10.)

Ver. 20. Use. None of the peace-offerings were burnt upon the altar, as the bread was leavened. C.

Ver. 21. Most holy. Heb. “a holy convocation.” H. — It is generally supposed that it had an octave, though the Scripture says nothing of it.

Ver. 24. Memorial, or a memorable sabbath. This third great festival sanctified the commencement of the civil year in Tisri, the sabbatical month, according to the ecclesiastical calculation. T. See Num. xxix. 3. — The sound of trumpets, which ushered in the year with great solemnity, reminded the Jews of the approaching fast, v. 27, (Maimon.) and of those terrible sounds which had been heard at Sinai. Theodoret, q. 32. The Rabbins say that a ram’s horn was used, because Abraham had sacrificed a ram instead of his son. Gen. xxii. 11. Zac. ix. 14. The Jews on this day sound the horn 30 times, feast, and wish one another a happy year. Boxtorf. syn. xix. We know not on what account this festival was instituted. But it was probably ordained in order that the people might learn to thank God for the favours received during the past year, and might beg his blessing on that, upon which they were now entering. C.

Ver. 28. Servile is not in the original, or in the other versions, nor in the Vulg. v. 30; whence it is inferred, that this day of atonement was to be kept like the sabbath: so that even meat could not be made ready on it lawfully. C. xvi. 29. C.

Ver. 29. Every. It was difficult for any grown-up person to be entirely guiltless, amid such a variety of precepts, (M.) which S. Peter says neither they nor their fathers could bear, Acts xv. 19: and S. James (iii.) observes, in many things we all offend. If any proved so happy as to keep without blame, (Lu. i. 6. H.) they were bound, at least, to grieve for the injury done to God by their fellow members. See Dan. ix. 5. M.

Ver. 32. Sabbaths. The Church adopts this custom in her divine office. The Jewish day began and ended with sun-set. Ex. xii. 6. C. — No part of the ninth of Tisri belonged to this feast, (v. 27,) which only began at the expiration of it. H.

Ver. 34. Seven days, during which the people were bound to rejoice, but not to abstain from servile work; except on the first and eighth day. T. — Tabernacles: Gr. Scenopegia; because, during the octave, the Jews lived in tents, or booths, made of branches, &c. v. 42.

Ver. 36. Most holy. Heb. “an holy assembly.” The great day of the festivity, Jo. vii. 37. — Congregation. Heb. hatsereth, “retention.” All were bound to wait till this day was over. In other festivals, it was sufficient if they were present one day. This was the concluding day of the feast of tabernacles. Sept. exodion. Plutarch (Sym. iv. 5.) observes, that this festival greatly resembles that of Bacchus. Ovid (Fast. iii.) speaking of the feast of Anna Perenna, describes it thus:

Sub Jove pars durat, pauci tentoria ponunt,

Sub quibus e ramis frondea facta casa est.

Casaubon (on Athen. iv. 9. and v. 5.) mentions other feasts, on which the pagans dwelt under tents. The devil has caused his slaves to imitate most of the holy ceremonies of the true religion. C.

Ver. 39. Eighth. On the feast of the Passover, the 7th day after the 15th was kept holy, because the 14th, or the Phase, made also a part of the solemnity, v. 5. 8. H.

Ver. 40. Fairest tree, branches of the orange or citron tree, laden with blossoms and fruit. T. — Josephus (iii. 10) says, they took branches of myrtle, willows, and palm trees, on which they fixed oranges. This is the fruit which the Hebrews generally understand to be hereby designated. In the same sense the Arab. and Syriac translate “golden apples.” — Thick trees, of any species; though Josephus, &c. restrain it to the myrtle, which was certainly used on this occasion. 2 Esd. viii. 12. — Willows. Sept. adds also, “branches of agnus from the torrent.” Perhaps Moses only meant that these branches should be used in forming the tents; but the Jews hold them in their hands, while they go in solemn procession round the pulpit in their synagogues, during every day of the octave, before breakfast, crying out Ana hosiah na, &c. “Save us, we beseech thee, O Lord; we beseech thee, grant us good success.” They gave the title of hosannah to those branches; in allusion to which, the children sung in honour of Jesus Christ, Hosanna to the Son of David.Rejoice; dancing and singing before the altar of holocausts, 2 K. vi. 14. The wisdom of God shines forth, in thus attaching to his worship a carnal people, by intermingling with the most solemn ceremonies some relaxation and pleasure. By calling them together so often in the year, they became also better acquainted with one another, and more in love with their religion and country. The ancient lawgivers entertained the like sentiments. Seneca, Strabo x. But the pagans generally carried these diversions to excess. C. — In this chapter we find six festivals specified: 1. sabbath; 2. Passover; 3. Pentecost; 4. trumpets; 5. expiation; 6. tabernacles, lasting till the octave day of assembly and collection. These three last were celebrated in the 7th month, the 1st of the civil year. There was also a feast on all the new moons. Num. xxviii. 11. H.

Ver. 42. Days. Tostatus affirms they might pass the nights in their houses; but most people suppose, the Jews spent the whole octave in bowers.

Ver. 44. Feasts. In the institution of these feasts, as in the other regulations of Moses, there was something ceremonial, which might be altered, and something moral, which regards even those times when the Jewish religion was to cease. S. Aug. q. 43. — Hence we must conclude, that the obligation of keeping certain days holy must always remain. But those appointed for the Jews, as they foretold the future Messias, must be changed, lest otherwise we might seem to confess that he is still to come. Rom. xiv. Gal. iv. Colos. ii. We are not therefore allowed to Judaize abstaining from work on the Jewish sabbath, (C. of Laodicea,) as Antichrist will require. S. Greg. ep. xi. 3. — But we must keep Sunday instead, (as even Protestants maintain, though there be no Scripture for it,) by authority of tradition, in memory of Christ’s resurrection, &c. S. Jerom, ep. ad Hed. ib. S. Aug. de C. xxii. 30. So also we observe the Christian festivals, in honour of our Lord and his saints, instead of those which God appointed for the Jews, either by himself or by his ministers: for we find that some were instituted after the time of Moses, (Est. ix. and 1 Macc. iv.) and these were sanctioned by the observance of Christ himself, It was the feast of the dedication, and Jesus walked in the temple, &c. Jo. x. 22-3. W.