Bible Commentaries
Leviticus 23

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Verse 1

The specified times for public worship according to the Law were;

(1) The daily morning and evening sacrifices, sometimes called “the continual burnt-offering.”

(2) The weekly Sabbath.

(3) the day of the new moon.

(4) the “set feasts” Numbers 29:39 or appointed times of annual observance, of which there were five, the Passover, the Day of Pentecost, the Feast of Trumpets, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Tabernacles. For each of these occasions special sacrifices were appointed Numbers 28:0; Numbers 29:0.

Verse 2

The feasts - literally, the appointed times. So in Leviticus 23:4, Leviticus 23:37, etc. This section Leviticus 23:1-38 sets forth for practical guidance the relation in which the appointed times of the Lord, weekly as well as annual, stood to the ordinary occupations of the people.

Holy convocations - Days of sabbatical rest for the whole people; they owed their name to gatherings for religious edification, which, in later times, were probably held in every town and village in the holy land. There were in the course of the year, besides the weekly Sabbaths, seven days of holy convocation Exodus 12:16; Numbers 28:18, Numbers 28:25-26; Numbers 29:1, Numbers 29:12, Numbers 29:35, with a distinction between them as regards strictness of observance (compare Leviticus 23:3, Leviticus 23:28 with Leviticus 23:7).

Verse 3

The seventh day had been consecrated as the Sabbath of Yahweh, figuring His own rest; it was the acknowledged sign of the covenant between God and His people. See the Exodus 20:1-11 notes. As such it properly held its place at the head of the days of holy convocation.

Verse 4

The recurrence of the sabbatical number in the five annual days of holy convocation should be noticed.

Verses 5-8

The sacrifices here meant are named in Numbers 28:19-24.

Verses 9-22

The repetition of the Law (see the margin reference) is appropriately connected with the thanksgiving for the completed grain harvest.

Verse 24

A sabbath - Here and in Leviticus 23:39 a word which should rather be rendered a sabbatical rest.

Blowing of trumpets - Here and in Numbers 29:1, literally “shouting”. There is no mention of trumpets in the Hebrew text of the Law in connection with the day. However, there is no reason to doubt the tradition that the day was distinguished by a general blowing of trumpets throughout the land, and that the kind of trumpet generally used for the purpose was the curved horn of an animal or a cornet of metal, such as was used at Sinai Exodus 19:16, and on the Day of Jubilee Leviticus 25:9. It must have differed in this respect from the ordinary festival of the New moon when the long straight trumpet of the temple alone was blown (Numbers 10:2; Exodus 25:23; see cut).

Seventh month - Called by the Jews in later times it was called Tisri, but in the Old Testament Ethanim, 1 Kings 8:2. According to the uniform voice of tradition “the first day” of this month was the first day of the Civil year in use before the Exodus, and was observed as the festival of the New year. Some have viewed it as a commemoration of the Creation of the world Job 38:7 : others, as the anniversary of the giving of the Law.

Verse 27

Also - Surely. On the special rites of the day, the tenth of Tisri, that is from the evening of the ninth day of the month to that of the tenth Leviticus 23:32, see Leviticus 16:0.

Verse 34

Seven days - Like the Passover, the feast of tabernacles commenced at the full moon, on the fifteenth day of the month, and lasted for seven days. The week of the feast was followed by an eighth day, forming strictly no part of it Leviticus 23:36, Numbers 29:35; Nehemiah 8:18, which was a day of holy convocation, and appears to have been generally distinguished by the word translated “solemn assembly” Deuteronomy 16:8; 2 Kings 10:20; Isaiah 1:13; Joel 1:14; Joel 2:15. From its derivation the word in the original appears strictly to denote a closing festival, and this rendering would apply with the most perfect fitness to the day after the week of the Feast of tabernacles, as the conclusion of the series of yearly festivals.

Verse 36

An offering made by fire - See Leviticus 23:8. The succession of sacrifices prescribed in Numbers 29:12-38, which forms such a marked feature in the Feast of Tabernacles, tends to show the distinctness of the “solemn assembly” from the festal week.

Verses 37-38

The meaning appears to be; “these are the yearly appointed times on which ye shall hold holy convocations and offer to Yahweh sacrifices, in addition to the Sabbath offerings Numbers 28:9-10 and to all your voluntary offerings.” Compare Numbers 29:39.

Verse 39

Also - Surely. The mode in which the Feast of Tabernacles is here reintroduced, after the mention of it in Leviticus 23:34-36, may suggest that this passage originally formed a distinct document.

The fruit of the land - i. e. the produce, including the grain, the olives, the vintage and the fruits of all kinds. The time of year so indicated would answer in the holy land to the beginning of October. See Exodus 23:16 note.

Verse 40

The boughs of goodly trees - Or, the fruit (see the margin) of the citron trees. It is said that every Israelite at the Feast of tabernacles carried in one hand a bundle of branches and in the other a citron. The branches seem to have comprised the boughs of palm-trees, “thick trees” and willows here named. See the note to Leviticus 23:42; Nehemiah 8:15-16.

Verse 42

Booths - According to Jewish tradition, what were used at the Feast of Tabernacles were strictly “tabernacula,” structures of boards, with a covering of boughs.

The “booth” in which the Israelite kept the Feast, and the “tent” which was his ordinary abode in the wilderness, had this in common - they were temporary places of sojourn, they belonged to camp-life. The seven days of abode in the booths of the festival was thus a fair symbol of the forty years of abode in tents in the wilderness. The Feast might well become the appointed memorial of this period of their history for the ages to come.

All that are Israelites born - The omission of the foreigners in this command is remarkable. Perhaps the intention was that on this joyous occasion they were to be hospitably entertained as guests. Compare Deuteronomy 16:14.

Verse 44

Feasts - Appointed times. See Leviticus 23:2 note.

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Leviticus 23". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". 1870.