OT: Notes on Israel's Feasts and Festivals (2)

The Feasts and Festivals in their Beginnings

Ex 23:14-17; 34:18-26 earliest festal prescriptions, call for three annual festivals:

  1. Pilgrimage of Unleavened bread
  2. Pilgrimage of Harvest, firstfruits of farmers labor (pilgrimage of weeks 34:22, firstfruits of wheat harvest)
  3. Pilgrimage of Ingathering

How they were observed:

Pilgrimage of Harvest and Ingathering

–          Festivals of Harvest and Ingathering tied to agricultural life of the land.

–          Originally

  • Festival of Harvest– celebrated firstfruit of barley in the spring
  • Festival of Ingathering– related to autumnal gathering of fruits at end of the year

–          These practices were probably adapted from already existing Canaanite agricultural practices.

–          How they offered it:

  • Offering were brought to sacred site near homes
  • Offerings were presented to YHWH in celebration of fertility of the land

Such practice emphasized

  1. Israel’s intimate relationship with land and
  2. Yahweh’s blessing of the people with successful crop.

Pilgrimage of Unleavened Bread

–          Generally associated with spring harvest– but early status of agricultural observation on their connection is not clear.

–          Seven day observance-no leaven is eaten- related to Israel’s exodus from Egypt.

–          At this period the pilgrimage of unleavened bread was not associated with Passover yet. Thus this festival may reflect earlier Israelite observance that celebrated Yahweh’s act of redemption.

–          At a later time observance of this festival was related to the presentation of sheaf of firstfruits (Lev 23:9-14)

–          This festival came to have both agricultural and historical connotations.

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