“Adonai said to Moshe, ‘Speak to the people of Israel; tell them, ‘When you enter the land where I am bringing you and eat bread produced in the land, you are to set aside a portion as a gift for Adonai. Set aside from your first dough a cake as a gift; set it aside as you would set aside a portion of the grain from the threshing-floor. From your first dough you will give Adonai a portion as a gift through all your generations.'”-Numbers 15:17-21
From verse 17, God instructs that the first bit of bread dough that will be baked on a regular basis in every Israelite household is to be dedicated to the Lord.
Because it is a HOLY portion.
This hearkens back to the Principle of First Fruits which states that the first of everything belongs to God whether it’s your children (restricted to males), the first of your crop yield (BIKKURIM in Hebrew) and here the first of the CHALLAH or bread dough.
There is an interesting change that came about because of this command.
Up until now it was only the farmers who offered up the First Fruits offerings because they were only ones who grew crops.
However, with this new command, it would no longer just be farmers who participated in this First Fruits Offering but every Israelite household because pretty much without exception every Israelite family baked bread.
Bread was the staple food during this time.
Here we can see the overarching nature of God’s commands and how He wants all to participate in offering their First Fruits on a regular basis.
In this case, there wasn’t just one select group that was to obey this command but KOL Israel (all of Israel)!
Even after the Temple was destroyed and the Israelites were dispersed, in remembrance of this commandment, the Talmud informs us that the housewives of Israelite households would throw a tiny chunk from their bread dough into a fire.
Recall this famous NT statement from Paul:
“Now if the hallah offered
as firstfruits is holy,
so is the whole loaf.
And if the root is holy,
so are the branches.”
Here’s the King James version.
“For if the firstfruit be holy,
the lump is also holy:
and if the root be holy,
so are the branches.”
When Paul said these verses, he wasn’t being cryptic or esoteric.
He was simply applying a common custom that would have been very familiar to practically every Jewish household to demonstrate how the sacrifice of First Fruits applies to the Messiah and Israel.
Namely, that if the Messiah is HOLY so is the source from which the Messiah sprang, in other words Israel.
Again, this command about setting aside some of the CHALLAH was to be put into practice after Israel was settled in the Promised Land which brings me to my next point.
Although we may sometimes have difficulty obeying the Torah instructions in a literal sense, we are to absorb the immutable patterns and principles contained in these instructions and then apply them to our lives.
The Principle of First Fruits teaches us that all good fruit that comes into our lives comes from God and thus it is wise and good to dedicate the First Fruits from this good fruit to him.
If anything I think this is teaching us an attitude of gratitude.
CONNECTING THIS TEACHING TO THE NEW TESTAMENT
“Not only so, but we ourselves,
who have the firstfruits of the Spirit,
groan inwardly as we wait eagerly
for our adoption as sons,
the redemption of our bodies.”