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that those who were near, or could conveniently attend, were expected to remain till the festival was concluded.
The importance of the subject must be an apology for treating thus copiously on the passover: and the real excellence of inquiries like the present, is to omit nothing that can either give us an idea of ancient customs, or enable us to understand the sacred Scriptures.
Perhaps it may be interesting to some to know in what manner the modern Jews observe this ordinance. We remark then, from Leo of Modena," that on the 14th of the first month, the first-born among the Jews commonly fast, as a testimony of their gratitude to God for having spared the first-born of Israel, while he destroyed the first-born of Egypt; and that in the synagogue service during the feast, the same prayers are used that are appointed for the other festivals ; and the portions in Exodus and Numbers relating to the passover are read; but
; the principal part of the observance is to be sought for at home. Accordingly, we are informed, that the matron of the family spreads a table; sets upon it two unleavened cakes, and two pieces of lamb-viz. a shoulder boiled, and a shoulder roasted; to which she adds, bitter herbs; some small fishes, because of the leviathan; a bard egg, because of the ziz; some meal, because of the behemoth (these three animals being appointed for the feast of the elect in the other life;) and peas and nuts for the children, to provoke their curiosity to ask the reason of the institution. They likewise use a kind of mustard, which, conveying to their minds the idea of mortar, reminds them of the bricks which were made in Egypt. Thus is the table furnished. And the father of the family sits with his children and servants, because his ancestors were once slaves in Egypt; takes of the bitter herbs,
• Cerem. of the Jews, part iii. ch. 3; and Buxtorff. Synag. Judaic. cap. 18.
dips them in the mustard, eats them, distributes the remainder among the rest ; divides also the pieces of the lamb; and informs them of the reason of the divine
appointment. The whole repast is intermixed with hymns and prayers; among which is one for the country in which they happen to reside, according to the advice of Jeremiah. The same things, we are informed, are repeated on the two following days; and the festival concludes with the boun, Hebdelè, or separation-blessing, in which the head of the family takes a cup of wine mixed with spices; repeats some portion of Scripture, as Ps. cxvi. 13; blesses the candle which shines before them; casts his eyes on his hands, as remembering that he must resume his usual labour; and then the family wish each other a good-night. Such are the ceremonies mentioned by Leo and Buxtorff, but they are probably different in different countries.
The Feast of Pentecost.
Divine ordinance concerning; way of counting the weeks; time of the year it
fell to be observed : the eight duties on the day of Pentecost: the impressive manner in which the tribes went to Jerusalem. Reasons for the appointing of Pentecost. This feast the time when the Spirit descended on the apostles : the time of the day, and the day of the week inquired into. Way in which the modern Jews observe Pentecost.
It is mentioned in Exod. xxiii. 14–17, and Deut. xvi. *16, that all the males of Israel should appear before the Lord, at three stated times annually, in the place which he should choose; namely, at Jerusalem and the Temple: and it is there said, that these times were the passover, the feast of weeks or of Pentecost, and the feast of tabernacles. We have attended very minutely to the first
of these, and are naturally called upon, therefore, to coulsider the second. The divine ordinance concerning which was as follows:
“ Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee. Begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn. And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the Lord thy God, with a tribute of a free-will-offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the Lord thy God, according as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee. And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man servant, and thy maid servant, and the Levite that is within thy gates; and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to place his name there. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bond man in Egypt; and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.” The first thing worthy of notice in this passage is, the way in which they used to count the weeks: they were to begin at the time when they began to put the sickle into the corn. But this was not left to the will of every individual, for we have already seen that it was a public, national, religious act, and fixed statedly to the second day of the passover week. Accordingly, the injunction to them in Levit. xxiii. 15, 16, is as follows:-“ Ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath (or from the morrow after the first day of the passover week, which was accounted a sabbath,) from the day that ye brought the sheaf of the wave-offering, seven sabbaths shall ye complete: even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall
number fifty days.” It was from this, that the Jews themselves, in their Talmudical writings, call it Ium Hemeshim (O'Von D1,) or the fiftieth day, and that in the New Testament it is called Pentecost, which is a word of the same meaning. But the most common name for it among the Jews is Otsreth (178y,) which signifies “ a restraining or shutting up;" probably because the joy of harvest was at that season restrained. For, although the first-fruits of the barley harvest had been presented on the second day of the passover week, and the corn had been cut down; and although the first-fruits of the wheat harvest were offered at Pentecost, and the wine was then in the grape, yet the labours of the husbandman were not completed till several months after, or the feast of tabernacles, when the ingathering of the whole harvest was celebrated. It is impossible to say exactly on what particular day of our year this feast happened; for the Jews regulated their religious feasts by the appearance of the moon, which, we know, is always varying. The feast in question evidently depended on the appearance of the moon in the first month of the ecclesiastical year, or Abib: for, whenever the new moon belonging to that month appeared, they counted fourteen days forward for the passover. The fifteenth day was the first day of the passover week. The sixteenth was that on which they cut down and presented the first-fruits at the Temple ; and the forty-ninth day after that (or the fiftieth including it) was the feast of Pentecost, or of weeks; because seven weeks, or forty nine days, were completed between the one and the other. To illustrate this more particularly, let us suppose that the new moon in Abib on one of the years appeared on the day of the vernal equinox, or the 21st of March-the fourteenth day, or the passover, would fall on the 4th of our April. The 5th day of April would be the first day of the passover week.
· Deut. xvi. 9-12.
b See p. 425.
On the 6th of April they would present the first fruits; and, on the forty-ninth day after that, or on the 25th of May, they would keep the feast of Pentecost.
Having said thus much concerning the time when it fell to be observed, we may next notice the duties that were enjoined on the worshippers. In the first place, it was to be a holy convocation, in which they were to do no servile work in all the land of Judea. This was intended to arrest the attention of the inhabitants, and to interest them in the duties which were prescribed at the Temple. 2. All the males were solemnly commanded to resort to the capital, and appear in their places at the time of worship in the Temple. This was noticed in the beginning of the section, to be the case at all the three principal feasts; but the following portion from Exod. xxiii. 14–17, more fully describes it :-" Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year. Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread; and the feast of harvest, the first-fruits of thy labours which thou hast sown in the field; and the feast of ingathering, which is in the end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field. Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord thy God.” A third duty of the worshippers was, that they should bring out of their habitations two wave-loaves, of two tenth deals of fine flour (equal to rather more than ten English pints or pounds weight,) baken with leaven.”
On these directions we may remark, first, that as the wave-sheaf at the passover was the sanctifying of the barley harvest, so the two loaves of fine flour at the feast of Pentecost, were the sanctifying of the wheat harvest; and, accordingly, they are called the first-fruits of that part of the harvest unto the Lord in Levit. xxiii.
· Levit. xxiii. 21.
b Levit. xxiij. 17.