The Talmud, by Joseph Barclay, , at sacred-texts.com
1. "How do we bless for fruit?" "For fruit of a tree say, 'Who createst the fruit of the wood,' excepting the wine. For wine say, 'Who createst the fruit of the vine.' For fruits of the earth say, 'Who createst the fruit of the ground,' excepting the morsel. For the morsel say, 'Who bringest forth bread from the earth.' For vegetables say, 'Who createst the fruit of the ground.' R. Judah says, 'Who createst various kinds of herbs.'"
2. He who blessed the fruits of the tree (thus), "Who createst the fruits of the ground?" "He is free." And for the fruits of ground (said), "Who createst the fruits of the wood?" "He is not free." But, in general, if one say, "(Who createst) everything?" "He is free."
3. For the thing which groweth not from the earth, say, "(Who createst) everything." For vinegar, unripe fruit, and locusts, say "everything." For milk, cheese, and eggs, say "everything." R. Judah says, "whatever it be, which had its origin in a curse, is not to be blessed."
4. If a man have before him many kinds of fruits? R. Judah says, "if there be among them of the seven 1 kinds, he is to bless them." But the Sages say "he may bless whichever of them he pleases."
5. "If one blessed the wine before food?" "The blessing frees the wine after food." "If he blessed the titbit before food?" "It frees the titbit after food." "If he blessed the bread?" "It frees the titbit." But the blessing on the titbit does not free the bread. The school of Shammai say, "neither does it free the cookery."
6. "If several persons sit down to eat?" "Each blesses for himself." "But if they recline together?" "One blesses for all." "If wine come to them during food?" "Each blesses for himself." "But if after food?" "One blesses for all." He also blesses for the incense, even though they have not brought it till after the repast.
7. "If they first set salt food before a man and bread with it?" "He blesses the salt food, which frees the bread, as the bread is only an appendage." The rule is, whenever there is principal and with it appendage, the blessing onthe principal frees the appendage.
8. "If one have eaten figs, grapes, and pomegranates?" "He must say after them three blessings." The words of Rabban Gamaliel. But the Sages say, "one blessinga summary of the three." R. Akivah says, "if one have eaten boiled (pulse); and it is his meal, he must say after it three blessings." Whoever drinks water for his thirst, says, "By whose word everything is," etc. R. Tarphon says, "Who createst many souls," etc.
56:1 Mentioned Deut. viii. 8. The Jews make a distinction between Biccurim, the fruits of the soil in their natural state, and Therumoth, the fruits in a prepared state, such as oil, flour, and wine. The first fruits were always brought to Jerusalem with great pomp and display. The Talmud says that all the cities which were of the same course of priests gathered together into one of the cities which was a priestly station, and they lodged in the streets. In the morning he who was chief among them said, "Arise, let us go up to Zion to the House of the Lord our God." An ox went before them with gilded horns, and an olive crown was on his head. This ox was intended for a peace offering to be eaten by the priests in the court of the sanctuary. The pipe played before the procession until it approached Jerusalem. When they drew near to the holy city, the first fruits were "crowned" and exposed to view with great ostentation. Then the chief men and the high officers and the treasurers of the temple came out to meet them and receive them with honour. And all the workmen in Jerusalem rose up in their shops, and thus they saluted them: "O our brethren, inhabitants of such a city, ye are welcome." The pipe played before them till they came to the Temple Mount. Every one, even King Agrippa himself, took his basket upon his p. 57 shoulder, and went forward till he came to the court. Then the Levites sang, "I will exalt thee, O Lord, because thou hast lifted me up, and hast not made my foes to rejoice over me" (Ps. xxx. 1). While the basket is still on his shoulder, he says, "I profess this day to the Lord my God." And when he repeats the passage, "A Syrian ready to perish was my father" (Deut. xxvi. 3-5), he casts the basket down from his shoulder, and keeps silent while the priest waves it hither and thither at the south-west corner of the altar. The whole passage of Scripture being then recited as far as the tenth verse, he places the basket before the altarhe worshipsand goes out. The baskets of the rich were of gold or silver. The baskets of the poor were of peeled willow. These latter, together with their contents, were presented to the priests in service. The more valuable baskets were returned to their owners. They used to hang turtle doves and young pigeons round their baskets, which were adorned with flowers. These were sacrificed for burnt offerings. The parties who brought the first fruits, were obliged to lodge in Jerusalem all the night after they brought them, and the next morning they were allowed to return home. The first fruits were forbidden to be offered before the feast of Pentecost, and after the feast of Dedication.