Declarations by Israel and by God (26:1-19)
The first harvest season after the Israelites settled in Canaan would be of particular importance, bringing to a climax the fulfilment of God’s promise to Israel of a permanent homeland (26:1-4). The harvest firstfruits offered to God on this occasion would have special significance as the people recalled their humble beginnings, their slavery in Egypt, and the miraculous release that allowed them to possess the land God had prepared for them (5-11).
Besides offering the firstfruits to God, the people had to make an annual offering of tithes. Every third year this tithe (or an additional tithe) was not taken to the central place of worship, but was given to the Levites and the poor in the offerer’s own locality (see 14:28-29). This meant that the distribution of this tithe was not under the general supervision of the priests. The law therefore laid down a special requirement to prevent dishonesty and ensure that people kept in mind the religious nature of the offering. According to this requirement, the offerer, after distributing his tithe, had to go to the central place of worship and declare before God that he had carried out his responsibilities fully (12-15).
Moses had now finished his instruction on the covenant’s detailed requirements. The two parties to the covenant then made declarations that bound them together. The people declared that Yahweh was their God and they would keep his commandments, and God declared that they were his people and he would exalt them above all nations (16-19; see also 29:10-15).