Adonai said to Moshe, “Tell the people of Israel, ‘After you enter the land I am giving you and harvest its ripe crops, you are to bring a sheaf of the firstfruits of your harvest to the cohen.”-Leviticus 23:9-10
From verse 9, we are now introduced to the Feast of Firstfruits.
In Hebrew, this festival is called BIKKURIM.
The key point you need to notice is that Israel is not to celebrate this feast until they enter into the Promised Land.
This is obvious because until Israel actually has a land of their own that they can till and raise crops on, the idea of Firstfruits was meaningless.
BIKKURIM and the feast that comes after called SHAVUOT are both agriculturally based feasts.
BIKKURIM is a spring feast and SHAVUOT is a summer feast.
It was going to be more than 80 years (40 years after they left Egypt and 40 years after receiving the commands on Sinai) before these festivals would be put into practice.
Practically speaking, one may wonder how exactly did the wandering Israelites get their food supply during their wilderness sojourn?
We know that Manna was their primary food supply.
We also know that they only ate meat from their flocks and herds when the animal was part of a sacrificial offering that allowed a portion of its meat to be eaten.
However, there’s also mention of the Hebrews eating bread in the wilderness.
Since they weren’t growing grain, where in the world did they get their bread?
The answer is from traders who came to the Israelites in droves.
I remind you that the Israelites and the mixed multitude that had joined them comprised a good 3 million people with all of their loaded carts and countless millions of animals.
When settling down for the night, the scores of thousands of campfires would have been visible for scores of miles from every direction.
The many traders and merchants looking to make a nice profit would have descended upon them like a swarm of rats to a pile of fresh cheese and moved along with the Israelites throughout their entire 40 year journey.
Some of you may be thinking, where in world did the Israelites get all this money to purchases all of the goodies the traders and merchants were hawking?
There weren’t any ATMs in the area, so what was the medium of exchange?
Recall this scene from the book of Exodus:
“The people of Israel had done what Moshe had said — they had asked the Egyptians to give them silver and gold jewelry and clothing; and Adonai had made the Egyptians so favorably disposed toward the people that they had let them have whatever they requested. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.”-Exodus 12:35-36
The Israelites were loaded to the hilt!
The Israelites acquired their wealth from the Egyptians, something the Egyptians are bitter about to this day.
And like all societies, the spread of wealth was uneven.
Some folks had more gold and silver than others, and some made good use of what they had and others squandered it.
Those who squandered their wealth eventually weren’t able to enjoy a supplement of grain and fruit to their daily diet of MANNA.
We’ll read about the grumblings of these folks once we get into the Book of Numbers.