After the really long posts we’ve been having lately, this should be a nice quickie.

Thank offering unto the Lord, illustration from a Bible card by the Providence Lithograph Company

Thank offering unto the Lord, illustration from a Bible card by the Providence Lithograph Company

Once the people come into the Promised Land, they are reminded (uuuuuhgain) to put some of their first harvest aside for God. When they do this, they have to follow a special script, telling God that they are descended from “a wandering Aramean” who went into Egypt with a few people, and came out “a nation, great, mighty, and populous” (Deut. 26:5). If I’m not mistaken, this is the first time the designation of “Aramean” has appeared, which is rather interesting.

The script continues: The Egyptians treated the Hebrews poorly and made them work hard. When the people cried out to God, God brought them out of Egypt and into the Promised Land. The recitation finished, the devotee must place his offering down before God.

That done, the food is to be given to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow.

Then a new recitation begins in which the devotee must let God know that he’s shared his tithe with the Levites, the sojourners, the fatherless, and the widows. He must also swear that he hasn’t transgressed any commandments, and didn’t eat any of his tithe while mourning or unclean. He must also promise that he hasn’t shared any of the tithe with the dead, on the subject of which Victor Matthews says:

The burial caves or rock-cut tombs themselves were located outside the village proper. Some personal possessions were buried with the corpse, usually to serve as symbols of who the person was in life. Still, some items may have been designed as comforts in the afterlife or as charms to drive away evil spirits. Archaeological evidence from the Late Bronze tombs found at Ugarit (1400-1200 B.C.) suggests that a strand of popular religion involved communication with the dead and a sense of kinship with past generations. Superstitions about the spirits of the dead and a form of ancestor worship were strictly forbidden in biblical law (Lev 19:31; Deut 26:13-14), but legislation prohibiting its practice suggests it continued to exist. The only narrative that contains evidence of an ancestor cult and the practice of communicating with the dead, or divination, is found in the story of Saul’s drastic purge of mediums and his subsequent visit to the witch of Endor in 1 Sam 28:3-19. (Manners & Customs of the Bible, p.69-70)

The devotee then asks God to bless the people of Israel.

See? I promised this one would be short!