Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
To the exposition of the commandments and rights of Israel Moses adds, in closing, another ordinance respecting those gifts, which were most intimately connected with social and domestic life, viz., the first-fruits and second tithes, for the purpose of giving the proper consecration to the attitude of the nation towards its Lord and God.
Of the first of the fruit of the ground, which was presented from the land received from the Lord, the Israelites was to take a portion (מראשׁית with מן partitive), and bring it in a basket to the place of the sanctuary, and give it to the priest who should be there, with the words, "I have made known to-day to the Lord thy God, that I have come into the land which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us," upon which the priest should take the basket and put it down before the altar of Jehovah (Deu 26:1-4). From the partitive מראשׁית we cannot infer, as Schultz supposes, that the first-fruits were not to be all delivered at the sanctuary, any more than this can be inferred from Exo 23:19 (see the explanation of this passage). All that is implied is, that, for the purpose described afterwards, it was not necessary to put all the offerings of first-fruits into a basket and set them down before the altar. טנא (Deu 26:2, Deu 26:4, and Deu 28:5, Deu 28:17) is a basket of wicker-work, and not, as Knobel maintains, the Deuteronomist's word for צנצנת rof (Exo 16:33. "The priest" is not the high priest, but the priest who had to attend to the altar-service and receive the sacrificial gifts. - The words, "I have to-day made known to the Lord thy God," refer to the practical confession which was made by the presentation of the first-fruits. The fruit was the tangible proof that they were in possession of the land, and the presentation of the first of this fruit the practical confession that they were indebted to the Lord for the land. This confession the offerer was also to embody in a prayer of thanksgiving, after the basket had been received by the priest, in which he confessed that he and his people owed their existence and welfare to the grace of God, manifested in the miraculous redemption of Israel out of the oppression of Egypt and their guidance into Canaan.
אבי אבד ארמּי, "a lost (perishing) Aramaean was my father" (not the Aramaean, Laban, wanted to destroy my father, Jacob, as the Chald., Arab., Luther, and others render it). אבד signifies not only going astray, wandering, but perishing, in danger of perishing, as in Job 29:13; Pro 31:6, etc. Jacob is referred to, for it was he who went down to Egypt in few men. He is mentioned as the tribe-father of the nation, because the nation was directly descended from his sons, and also derived its name of Israel from him. Jacob is called in Aramaean, not only because of his long sojourn in Aramaea (Gen 29-31), but also because he got his wives and children there (cf. Hos 12:13); and the relatives of the patriarchs had accompanied Abraham from Chaldaea to Mesopotamia (Aram; see Gen 11:30). מעט בּמתי, consisting of few men (בּ, the so-called beth essent., as in Deu 10:22; Exo 6:3, etc.; vid., Ewald, 299, q.). Compare Gen 34:30, where Jacob himself describes his family as "few in number." On the number in the family that migrated into Egypt, reckoned at seventy souls, see the explanation at Gen 46:27. On the multiplication in Egypt into a great and strong people, see Exo 1:7, Exo 1:9; and on the oppression endured there, Exo 1:11-22, and Exo 2:23. - The guidance out of Egypt amidst great signs (Deu 26:8), as in Deu 4:34.
"So shalt thou set it down (the basket with the first-fruits) before Jehovah." These words are not to be understood, as Clericus, Knobel, and others suppose, in direct opposition to Deu 26:4 and Deu 26:5, as implying that the offerer had held the basket in his hand during the prayer, but simply as a remark which closes the instructions.
Rejoicing in all the good, etc., points to the joy connected with the sacrificial meal, which followed the act of worship (as in Deu 12:12). The presentation of the first-fruits took place, no doubt, on their pilgrimages to the sanctuary at the three yearly festivals (ch. 16); but it is quite without ground that Riehm restricts these words to the sacrificial meals to be prepared from the tithes, as if they had been the only sacrificial meals (see at Deu 18:3).
The delivery of the tithes, like the presentation of the first-fruits, was also to be sanctified by prayer before the Lord. It is true that only a prayer after taking the second tithe in the third year is commanded here; but that is simply because this tithe was appropriated everywhere throughout the land to festal meals for the poor and destitute (Deu 14:28), when prayer before the Lord would not follow per analogiam from the previous injunction concerning the presentation of first-fruits, as it would in the case of the tithes with which sacrificial meals were prepared at the sanctuary (Deu 14:22.). לעשׂר is the infinitive Hiphil for להעשׂר, as in Neh 10:39 (on this form, vid., Ges. 53, 3 Anm. 2 and 7, and Ew. 131, b. and 244, b.). "Saying before the Lord" does not denote prayer in the sanctuary (at the tabernacle), but, as in Gen 27:7, simply prayer before God the omnipresent One, who is enthroned in heaven (Deu 26:15), and blesses His people from above from His holy habitation. The declaration of having fulfilled the commandments of God refers primarily to the directions concerning the tithes, and was such a rendering of an account as springs from the consciousness that a man very easily transgresses the commandments of God, and has nothing in common with the blindness of pharisaic self-righteousness "I have cleaned out the holy out of my house:" the holy is that which is sanctified to God, that which belongs to the Lord and His servants, as in Lev 21:22. בּער signifies not only to remove, but to clean out, wipe out. That which was sanctified to God appeared as a debt, which was to be wiped out of a man's house (Schultz).
"I have not eaten thereof in my sorrow." אני, from און, tribulation, distress, signifies here in all probability mourning, and judging from what follows, mourning for the dead, equivalent to "in a mourning condition," i.e., in a state of legal (Levitical) uncleanness; so that בּאני really corresponded to the בּטמא which follows, except that טמא includes every kind of legal uncleanness. "I have removed nothing thereof as unclean," i.e., while in the state of an unclean person. Not only not eaten of any, but not removed any of it from the house, carried it away in an unclean state, in which they were forbidden to touch the holy gifts (Lev 22:3). "And not given (any) of it on account of the dead." This most probably refers to the custom of sending provisions into a house of mourning, to prepare meals for the mourners (Sa2 3:25; Jer 16:7; Hos 9:4; Tobit 4:17). A house of mourning, with its inhabitants, was regarded as unclean; consequently nothing could be carried into it of that which was sanctified. There is no good ground for thinking of idolatrous customs, or of any special superstition attached to the bread of mourning; nor is there any ground for understanding the words as referring to the later Jewish custom of putting provisions into the grave along with the corpse, to which the Septuagint rendering, οὐκ ἔδωκα ἀπ αὐτῶν τῷ τεθνηκότι, points. (On Deu 26:15, see Isa 63:15.)
At the close of his discourse, Moses sums up the whole in the earnest admonition that Israel would give the Lord its God occasion to fulfil the promised glorification of His people, by keeping His commandments with all their heart and soul.
On this day the Lord commanded Israel to keep these laws and rights with all the heart and all the soul (cf. Deu 6:5; Deu 10:12.). There are two important points contained in this (Deu 26:17.). The acceptance of the laws laid before them on the part of the Israelites involved a practical declaration that the nation would accept Jehovah as its God, and walk in His way (Deu 26:17); and the giving of the law on the part of the Lord was a practical confirmation of His promise that Israel should be His people of possession, which He would glorify above all nations (Deu 26:18, Deu 26:19). "Thou hast let the Lord say to-day to be thy God," i.e., hast given Him occasion to say to thee that He will be thy God, manifest Himself to thee as thy God. "And to walk in His ways, and to keep His laws," etc., for "and that thou wouldst walk in His ways, and keep His laws." The acceptance of Jehovah as its God involved eo ipso a willingness to walk in His ways.
At the same time, Jehovah had caused the people to be told that they were His treasured people of possession, as He had said in Exo 19:5-6; and that if they kept all His commandments, He would set them highest above all nations whom He had created, "for praise, and for a name, and for glory," i.e., make them an object of praise, and renown, and glorification of God, the Lord and Creator of Israel, among all nations (vid., Jer 33:9 and Jer 13:11; Jer 3:19-20). "And that it should become a holy people unto the Lord," as He had already said in Exo 19:6. The sanctification of Israel was the design and end of its divine election, and would be accomplished in the glory to which the people of God were to be exalted (see the commentary on Exo 19:5-6). The Hiphil האמיר, which is only found here, has no other meaning than this, "to cause a person to say," or "give him occasion to say;" and this is perfectly appropriate here, whereas the other meaning suggested, "to exalt," has no tenable support either in the paraphrastic rendering of these verses in the ancient versions, or in the Hithpael in Psa 94:4, and moreover is altogether unsuitable in Deu 26:17.