Holy Days.* 1The LORD said to Moses: 2Speak to the Israelites and tell them: The following are the festivalsa of the LORD, which you shall declare holy days. These are my festivals:
3For six days work may be done; but the seventh day is a sabbath of complete rest,* a declared holy day; you shall do no work. It is the LORD’s sabbath wherever you dwell.b
Passover. 4These are the festivals of the LORD, holy days which you shall declare at their proper time.c 5The Passover of the LORD* falls on the fourteenth day of the first month, at the evening twilight.d 6The fifteenth day of this month is the LORD’s feast of Unleavened Bread. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread.e 7On the first of these days you will have a declared holy day; you shall do no heavy work. 8On each of the seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD. Then on the seventh day you will have a declared holy day; you shall do no heavy work.
9* The LORD said to Moses: 10Speak to the Israelites and tell them: When you come into the land which I am giving you, and reap its harvest, you shall bring the first sheaf of your harvest to the priest, 11who shall elevatef the sheaf before the LORD that it may be acceptable on your behalf.g On the day after the sabbath* the priest shall do this. 12On this day, when your sheaf is elevated, you shall offer to the LORD for a burnt offering an unblemished yearling lamb. 13Its grain offering shall be two tenths of an ephah of bran flour mixed with oil, as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD; and its libation shall be a fourth of a hin of wine. 14You shall not eat any bread or roasted grain or fresh kernels until this day, when you bring the offering for your God. This shall be a perpetual statute throughout your generations wherever you dwell.
Pentecost. 15Beginning with the day after the sabbath, the day on which you bring the sheaf for elevation, you shall count seven full weeks;h 16you shall count to the day after the seventh week, fifty days.* i Then you shall present a new grain offering to the LORD. 17For the elevated offering of your first-ripened fruits to the LORD, you shall bring with you from wherever you live two loaves of bread made of two tenths of an ephah of bran flour and baked with leaven. 18Besides the bread, you shall offer to the LORD a burnt offering of seven unblemished yearling lambs, one bull of the herd, and two rams, along with their grain offering and libations, as a sweet-smelling oblation to the LORD. 19One male goat shall be sacrificed as a purification offering, and two yearling lambs as a communion sacrifice. 20The priest shall elevate them—that is, the two lambs—with the bread of the first-ripened fruits as an elevated offering before the LORD; these shall be sacred to the LORD and belong to the priest. 21On this same day you shall make a proclamation: there shall be a declared holy day for you; no heavy work may be done. This shall be a perpetual statute through all your generations wherever you dwell.
22j When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not be so thorough that you reap the field to its very edge, nor shall you gather the gleanings of your harvest. These things you shall leave for the poor and the alien. I, the LORD, am your God.
New Year’s Day. 23The LORD said to Moses: 24Tell the Israelites: On the first day of the seventh month* k you will have a sabbath rest, with trumpet blasts as a reminder, a declared holy day; 25you shall do no heavy work, and you shall offer an oblation to the LORD.
The Day of Atonement. 26The LORD said to Moses: 27Now the tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement.* l You will have a declared holy day. You shall humble yourselves and offer an oblation to the LORD. 28On this day you shall not do any work, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD, your God. 29Those who do not humble themselves on this day shall be cut off from the people. 30If anyone does any work on this day, I will remove that person from the midst of the people. 31You shall do no work; this is a perpetual statute throughout your generations wherever you dwell; 32it is a sabbath of complete rest for you. You shall humble yourselves. Beginning on the evening of the ninth of the month, you shall keep your sabbath from evening to evening.
The Feast of Booths. 33The LORD said to Moses: 34Tell the Israelites: The fifteenth day of this seventh month is the LORD’s feast of Booths,* m which shall continue for seven days. 35On the first day, a declared holy day, you shall do no heavy work. 36For seven days you shall offer an oblation to the LORD, and on the eighth day you will have a declared holy day. You shall offer an oblation to the LORD. It is the festival closing. You shall do no heavy work.
37* These, therefore, are the festivals of the LORD which you shall declare holy days, in order to offer as an oblation to the LORD burnt offerings and grain offerings, sacrifices and libations, as prescribed for each day, 38in addition to the LORD’s sabbaths, your donations, your various votive offerings, and the voluntary offerings that you present to the LORD.
39On the fifteenth day, then, of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD* for a whole week. The first and the eighth day shall be days of rest. 40On the first day you shall gather fruit of majestic trees, branches of palms, and boughs* of leafy trees and valley willows. Then for a week you shall make merry before the LORD, your God. 41You shall keep this feast of the LORD for one whole week in the year. By perpetual statute throughout your generations in the seventh month of the year, you shall keep it. 42You shall dwell in booths for seven days; every native-born Israelite shall dwell in booths, 43that your descendants may realize that, when I led the Israelites out of the land of Egypt, I made them dwell in booths. I, the LORD, am your God.
44Thus did Moses announce to the Israelites the festivals of the LORD.
* [23:1–44] This is paralleled by another calendar from the Priestly tradition, in Nm 28–29. Non-Priestly resumes of festal and holy observances are found in Ex 23:10–17; 34:18–24 and Dt 16:1–17.
* [23:3] Sabbath of complete rest: the sabbath and the Day of Atonement are called “sabbaths of complete rest” (Ex 16:23; 31:15; 35:2; Lv 16:31; 23:32). Work of any sort is prohibited on these days (Lv 23:3, 28; Nm 29:7) as opposed to other holy days where only laborious work is prohibited but light work, such as preparing food, is allowed (Ex 12:16; cf. Lv 23:7, 8, 21, 25, 35, 36; Nm 28:18, 25, 26; 29:1, 12, 35).
* [23:5–6] The Passover of the LORD…feast of Unleavened Bread: the two occasions were probably separate originally. Combined they celebrate the exodus from Egypt. Cf. Ex 12:1–20, 43–49; Nm 28:16–25.
* [23:9–14] Around Passover a first fruits offering is to be brought (see 2:14), consisting of a sheaf of barley, the crop that matures at this time of year.
* [23:11] Day after the sabbath: the singular term shabbat “sabbath” may mean “week” here and refer to the seven-day period of the feast of Unleavened Bread. According to this interpretation, the barley sheaf is offered the day after the week of Unleavened Bread. Others understand it as referring to the first or last day of Unleavened Bread.
* [23:16–21] Fifty days: Pentecost. This festival occurs on a single day, fifty days after the feast of Unleavened Bread, elsewhere called the “feast of the Harvest” (Ex 23:16), “Day of First Fruits” (Nm 28:26), and “feast of Weeks” (Ex 34:22; Dt 16:10, 16). The name Pentecost comes from the later Greek term for the holy day (cf. Acts 2:1; 20:16; 1 Cor 16:8), referring to the fiftieth day. This is the occasion for bringing the first fruits of the wheat harvest.
* [23:24] First day of the seventh month: the seventh new moon is counted from a new year beginning in the spring (cf. v. 5). Like the seventh day in the week, it is preeminent among the new moon days (cf. Nm 28:11–15; 29:1–6).
* [23:27] Day of Atonement: see chap. 16 and notes there.
* [23:34] Feast of Booths: this is the final harvest festival of the year celebrating the remaining harvest. It is called the “feast of Ingathering” (Ex 23:16; 34:22), the “feast of Booths” (Lv 23:34; Dt 16:13), or simply the “feast” (1 Kgs 8:65). It is a seven-day festival with an eighth closing day. The first and eighth days are rest days (see note on v. 3).
* [23:37–38] This appears to be the original conclusion of the chapter.
* [23:39–43] The feast of the LORD: the feast of Booths, the preeminent festival. This section supplements vv. 33–36 by prescribing the popular activities for the festival.
* [23:40–43] Fruit…branches…boughs: the fruit and/or foliage from these trees is to be gathered, but it is not said how they are used. The command to make merry suggests they may have been used in a procession or even circumambulation of the altar (cf. Ps 26:6). Later tradition understood these prescriptions as referring to making the booths out of the foliage (Neh 8:15).
a. [23:2] Nm 28–29; Dt 16:1–17.
b. [23:3] Lv 19:3; 26:2; Ex 20:8–11; 23:12; 31:14–15; 34:21; Nm 28:9–10; Dt 5:12–15; Lk 13:14.
d. [23:5] Ex 12:1–51; Nm 9:1–8; 28:16–25; Dt 16:1–8.
e. [23:6] Ex 12:18; 13:3–10; 23:15; 34:18.
h. [23:15] Ex 23:16; 34:22; Nm 28:26–31; Dt 16:9–12.
l. [23:27] Lv 16:1–34; 25:9; Nm 29:7–11.
m. [23:34] Ex 23:16; 34:22; Dt 16:13–15; 31:10; 2 Mc 1:9, 18; Jn 7:2.