First Fruits offerings are called for in the Torah, first mentioned in Exodus 23:14. Three times in the year you will keep a feast to Me. 15. You will keep the Feast of Unleavened Bread: you will eat unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded you, in the time appointed of the month Aviv, for in Aviv you came out from Egypt: and no one will appear before Me empty. 16. And the Feast of Harvest, the First Fruits of your labors, which you have sown in the field: and the Feast of Ingathering (Sukkot), at the end of the year, when you have gathered in your labors out of the field. 17. Three times in the year all your males will appear before the LORD* God.
Leviticus 23:10. .. When you have come into the land that I AM giving to you and reap its harvest, then you will bring an omer (two quarts) of the First Fruits of your harvest to the priest, 11. and he will wave the omer before the LORD*, to be accepted for you: on the next day after the Sabbath the priest will wave it.
The earliest harvest each season is the second day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which comes late March to mid-April. That is when barley is harvested, so it brought by all those who planted barley. Only those who raise barley have a First Fruits offering at this feast, which the crop of crop harvested in the Book of Ruth. Whether the farmer harvested one bushel or a thousand bushels, the offering is the same: two quarts of barley, which are given to the priest for his use, whether for barter or his family’s food. What counts is that the first two quarts of the harvest are given to the priest for First Fruits.
Leviticus 23:15. And you will count for yourself from the next day (First Fruits) after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the omer of the wave offering, seven weeks will be complete: 16. to the day after the seventh week you will number fifty days and you will offer a new grain (wheat) offering to the LORD*. 17. You will bring out of your habitations two wave loaves of two tenths of an ephah. They will be of fine flour, they will be baked with leaven; they are the First Fruits to the LORD*.
The second harvest each year is wheat, with this harvest beginning fifty days after the beginning of the barley harvest. Again, the First Fruits offering is small, just two loaves made from the first few cups of wheat harvested. What counts is those being the First Fruits, made into two loaves. They are not necessarily the best, just the first, with only two loaves even though the farmer may have harvested thousands of bushels. Again they are given to the priest.
Leviticus 23:33. And the LORD* spoke to Moses saying, 34. “Speak to the children of Israel saying,
“The fifteenth day of this seventh month will be the Feast of Sukkot to the LORD* for seven days. 35. On the first day will be a holy convocation: you will do no servile work on it. 36. Seven days you will offer an offering made by fire to the LORD*: the eighth day will be a holy convocation for you and you will offer an offering made by fire to the LORD*: it is a solemn assembly, you will do no servile work on it.
Exodus 23:16 and Exodus 34:22 order this third of the First Fruits, called the Feast of Ingathering. The common name is Sukkot, meaning Booths, since the men are ordered to sleep in the booths throughout the feast. This calls for the First Fruit offering of the fall harvest, naming the fruits to be brought in Deuteronomy 8:7 & 8, For the LORD* your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; 8. a land of wheat, barley, vines, fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olive oil and honey;
Verse 8 lists all the crops to be offered as First Fruits; Barley, Wheat, Dates, Figs, Grapes, Olives, and Pomegranates. No quantity is ordered for the fall crops, but whatever a farmer had of those would be brought in one basket. Notice that of those crops only Barley and Wheat are seeded each year, with the others being from trees and grapes from vines, all long-living plants. For the fall crops the quantities are small, what counts is the each farmer brings the first of each crop that he has.
First Fruits offerings are summarized in:
Deuteronomy 26.1. And it will be, when you have come in to the land which the LORD* your God is giving you for an inheritance and possess it and live there, 2. that you will take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which you will bring from your land that the LORD* your God gives you and put it in a basket and go to the place which the LORD* your God will choose to place His name there. 3. And you will come to the priest that will be in those days and say to him, ‘I profess this day to the LORD* your God that I have come to the country which the LORD* swore to our fathers to give us.’ 4. And the priest will take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the LORD* your God. 5. And you will speak and say before the LORD* your God, ‘My father was a wandering Aramean and he went down into Egypt and sojourned there with a few, and there became a nation, great, mighty, and populous. 6. And the Egyptians treated us ill and afflicted us, and laid hard bondage upon us. 7. And when we cried to the LORD* God of our fathers, the LORD* heard our voices, and looked on our affliction, our labor, and our oppression. 8. And the LORD* brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, with great fear, with signs, and with wonders. 9. And He has brought us into this place and has given us this land, a land that flows with milk and honey. 10. And now, behold, I have brought the First Fruits of the land which You, LORD*, have given me.’ And you will set it before the LORD* your God and worship before the LORD* your God, 11. and you will rejoice in every good thing which the LORD* your God has given to you and to your house, you, the Levite, and the stranger that is in your midst. The farmer quoted from the above, beginning in verse 3 with “I profess..” through verse 11, when he presented his offering to the priest.
Since the first picking of dates, figs, grapes, olives, and pomegranates could have been weeks before Sukkot, the most perishable would have been processed into wine, olive oil, date honey, or whatever was appropriate. No crop was to be converted into money for a First Fruits offering. Only the farmer growing that crop made the offering, with the offering becoming the property of the priest to whom it was given, whose only income was from his share of the tithes and offerings.
In the seventh year (Sh’mitah), the year of rest for the fields, there is no harvest, so there is no First Fruits offering. The priest, like everyone else went into the field frequently for a very small quantity of whatever crop he wanted.