Firstfruits

FIRSTFRUITS (Heb. rē’shîth, bikkûrîm, Gr. aparchē). In acknowledgment of the fact that all the products of the land came from God, and to show thankfulness for his goodness, Israelites brought as an offering a portion of the fruits that ripened first. These were looked on as a pledge of the coming harvest. Such an offering was made both on behalf of the nation (Lev.23.10, Lev.23.17) and by individuals (Exod.23.19; Deut.26.1-Deut.26.11). These firstfruits went for the support of the priesthood.

Jesus is the firstfruits of all who die in faith; that is, the resurrection of believers is made possible and is guaranateed by his resurrection (1Cor.15.20). Believers, in turn, are “a kind of firstfruits” of all that God created (Jas.1.18); creation will share in the redemption of the children of God (Rom.8.19-Rom.8.21).


FIRST FRUITS ([1] רֵאשִׁית, H8040, LXX ἀπαρχή, G569. An adjective meaning “first” which modifies the particular product concerned. [2] בְּכֹר, H1147, LXX πρωτογένημα. From a root “to bear early, new fruit”).

Literal.


First fruits of twenty barley loaves and of fresh ears of grain supplied Elisha with resources to feed a hundred men (2 Kings 4:42). First fruits were given to priests in Hezekiah’s time (2 Chron. 31:5); were pledged in Nehemiah’s day (Neh 10:35) and men were appointed to oversee store chambers in which to store them (Neh 12:44; 13:31). The first fruits were included in Ezekiel’s plans for worship (Ezek 44:30; 48:14).

Though the NT has no provision for the paying of first fruits, the community from which the Didachē arose paid first fruits of the winepress, threshing floor, oxen, sheep, bread, newly opened jars of wine and oil, of money, of clothes, and of all possessions to the prophets as being the high priests, and in the absence of prophets, gave them to the poor (Didachē 13:3).

Metaphorical.


Bibliography

G. F. Moore, Judaism (1927), II, 71; G. Delling, “aparche” in Kittel, TWNT (1933), I, 483, 484; J. Pedersen, Israel (1940), III, 300ff.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(re’shith, bikkurim; aparche. Septuagint translates re’shith by aparche, but for bikkurim it uses the word protogennemata; compare Philo 22 33):



The beautiful ceremony of the offering of the re’shith in the House of God is described in De 26:1-11, and is enlarged upon in the Talmud (Bikkurim 3 2). According to the Talmud (Terumoth 4 3) a sixtieth part of the first-fruits in a prepared form was the minimum that could be offered; the more generous brought a fortieth part, and even a thirtieth. The fruits of newly planted trees were not to be gathered during the first three years; the fruits of the fourth year were consecrated to Yahweh, and from the fifth year the fruits belonged to the owner of the trees (Le 19:23-25). According to Mishna, `Orlah i.10, even the shells of nuts and pomegranates could not be used during the first three years as coloring matter or for the lighting of fires. It is held by some scholars that the institution of the tithe (see Tithe) is a later development from the first-fruits.