About two weeks ago, we began a series of 12 expressions and idioms that is bound to enrich your Hebrew vocabulary, both in physical and spiritual aspects, all involving a common noun that most of us use daily without giving it too much thought. This noun is p’ri: fruit.
We conclude today our fruit series. The last fruit that we discuss today is the biblical ‘First Fruit.’
Pri hi•lu•lim is the actual, well-known First Fruit. In botanical terminology, fruit is yielded by trees. There is some misunderstanding about the nature of the biblical First Fruit. The First Fruit is actually the fourth fruit!
“And when you shall come into the land, and shall have planted all kinds of trees for food, then you shall count its fruit as uncircumcised; three years shall it be uncircumcised to you; it shall not be eaten. But in the fourth year all its fruit shall be holy for praise giving to the Lord”
The reason for the confusion is the word ‘fruit.’ The First Fruit, as translated into English, is not fruit in its botanical meaning. Rather, it is the first yielding of crops. This first yielding is called in Hebrew: ‘bikurim.’ These first yieldings of the earth (not from trees) are brought to God during the holiday, Shavuot (Pentecost).
“Also in the day of the firstfruits, when you bring a new meal offering to the Lord, in your feast of weeks, you shall have a holy gathering; you shall do no labor”
As you see in this verse, we bring to God a meal offering and not actual fruits.
According to the Bible, then, we are asked not to eat the fruit of young trees in the first three years of its yielding. The first edible fruit is given to the Lord to glorify Him. Indeed, hi•lu•lim means ‘glorifying.’ The related infinitive is ‘lehalel’: to praise, to glorify.
Only a year after the First Fruit which is dedicated to God, the fruit of our trees belongs to us on the fifth year of it yielding.
“And in the fifth year shall you eat of its fruit, that it may yield to you its produce; I am the Lord your God”
Pri hi•lu•lim is also an idiom that means: ‘fine and excellent results of efforts,’ ‘joyful results of devoted labor.’